Since his 2009 single “Beer on the Table” first put him on the map, Wisconsin-born artist Josh Thompson has bounced around Nashville like an empty can in the back of a truck bed. But through no fault of his own — he was just a victim of label changes, beginning his career at Columbia and most recently doing a stint at ShowDog-Universal. It was during his time in between at RCA Nashville (like Columbia, a part of Sony Music Nashville), however, where he recorded his latest project, Change: The Lost Record, Vol. 1. On October 9th, the former concrete worker is releasing the six-song EP independently, with help from ole Digital/The Orchard.
“I call it my first second record that’s coming out third,” the wry Thompson tells Rolling Stone Country. “I cut it at Sony in 2011 and we parted ways right before the record came out, and I left with the record. I knew that I wanted to release it at some point in time, and I went right to another record label, but I didn’t want to give it to them, so I kept it. In January, I got out of my last current deal and thought this was the right time to release it.”
Split up into two EPs — the second volume’s release date is still to be determined — the album features all of the songs Thompson wrote and recorded while at RCA, including a duet with Justin Moore, “Livin’ Like Hank,” and the autobiographical “Same Ol’ Plain Ol’ Me.” Thompson debuted the song live on the Grand Ole Opry in September. (Watch the video above.)
“It’s a classic country song. It has that old traditional ‘Workingman Blues’ feel,” he says. “It’s about, it doesn’t matter what you dress up like, it’s still going to be me; and making no apologies for who I am.”
“Same Ol’ Plain Ol’ Me” is indicative of Change‘s overall honky-tonk feel, full of steel guitar and generous amounts of twang. Even so, Thompson says he sees a lot of fans of pop-country at his shows. Currently on the road, he’ll touring right up through Christmas.
“There’s a lot of cross-pollination,” he says. “There are a lot of country fans out there who love what I do and love what everybody else is doing. They’re just music junkies. If you’re singing about something real and delivering it well, it’ll come across as genuine.”
The idea of recording something outside of his comfort zone is foreign to Thompson, who strives to remain true to his Hank and Waylon-inspired roots.
“I have to sing these songs every night, so it can’t be a stretch. It’s got to fit with what you’ve done, and with what the fans are going to like,” he says. “You learn that over the years.”