Josh Kelley returns with edgier second album

Allison Corneau

The last time the name Josh Kelley made music headlines was a year and a half ago. The extended hiatus this Georgia-bred singer/songwriter took to put the finishing touches on the follow-up to his 2003 debut, “For the Ride Home,” certainly worked to his advantage. His newly-released “Almost Honest,” backed by Hollywood Records, features an edgy mix of tunes that will hook almost any listener upon first listen, regardless of their musical preferences.

Teaming with the likes of Joe Firstman and The Matrix to pen the record’s 12 tracks, Kelley opens up about topics surrounding the break-ups and make-ups of relationships. He illustrates his lyrical versatility when speaking his mind about the lust factor often prevalent in new relationships.

A prime example of Kelley’s vulnerability shows on the disc’s title track, “Almost Honest,” where he lays illustrates that while lies may offer a temporary solution to certain situations, in the end honesty is the still the best solution.

The upbeat “Only You” is a surefire radio single to rival Kelley’s previous crowd-pleaser “Amazing.” The heartfelt “20 Miles to Georgia” will hook anyone with close ties to their hometown, as the singer describes the myriad of emotions felt when returning to his native Georgia.

“Lover Come Up,” a mellow, head-bopping tune, showcases Kelley’s southern groove and is peppered with the unique sounds of Ben Peeler on the Lap Steel. Fans of Gavin DeGraw will enjoy the piano-heavy “Hard Times Happen,” where Kelley croons of a budding relationship where one partner brings out the best in the other.

The lyrical edge and maturity featured on Kelley’s second endeavor is evident and equally appreciated, and his ability to perform a wide range of instruments offers a refreshing change from the synthetic, often duplicated music scene today.

Give This Track a Second Listen: “20 Miles to Georgia”

Our Rating: Three-and-a-half out of Four Stars.