A fitting introduction to a bold new era of Josh Abbott Band, “Astronaut” opens Somewhere Down The Road on a hypnotic and string-heavy instrumental before bursting into a moment of pure catharsis: “Sometimes I wish I was an astronaut/Instead of workin’ this bullshit concrete job…Sick of sweatin’ in the summer heat/Just to buy cheap beer and gasoline”. Immediately after, “The Sale” sustains that moody intensity with a blistering takedown of the fame-hungry tendencies of so many industry insiders (“When the lights come on/The moths flutter in/Oblivious that radiance eventually goes dim”).

The latest album from Josh Abbott Band, Somewhere Down The Road was born from the kind of musical passion that only gets stronger as time goes by. After 15 years of building a wildly devoted following in their home state and well beyond, the Texas-bred now eight-piece approached their seventh studio LP with a renewed dedication to trusting their instincts and speaking an unvarnished truth about life, love, and human nature. Matching their intricate arrangements and immediately catchy melodies with all the raw vitality of a freewheeling bar band, Somewhere Down The Road ultimately captures an essential act at the height of its powers—and fully affirms Josh Abbott Band as a formidable force in modern country music.

As singer/songwriter Josh Abbott reveals, the unbridled authenticity of Somewhere Down The Road emerged from a deliberate shift in his writing process. Abbott solo-wrote four of the tracks, and co-wrote another four. “For a long time I wanted to write hooky three-minute songs that would sound good on the radio, but now I’m writing from the heart more than I ever have,” says Abbott, whose legacy in Texas music also includes co-founding the widely beloved supergroup The Panhandlers. In fact, the band scrapped an entire album before starting from scratch and creating a body of work that truly fulfilled their vision—one that echoes Abbott’s deepened devotion to crafting lyrics with a profound emotional realism, often exploring the more complex aspects of family life, love, and the music business. “The more I listened to that other record, the more it felt like a sequel to the last album rather than a reflection of where we’re at now,” says Abbott. “This new record came from getting back to who I really am as a songwriter, and there was a lot of exorcising some of the demons from my past.”

Not only an evolution of Abbott’s songwriting, Somewhere Down The Road takes Josh Abbott Band in a new and adventurous sonic direction. Produced by Dwight A. Baker (who also produced 2015’s critically acclaimed Front Row Seat) and recorded at his Matchbox Studios in Austin, the album marks the first effort from the band’s newly reconfigured lineup, including longtime members Austin Davis (banjo), Eddie Villanueva (drums), David Fralin (keys), and Jimmy Hartman (bass) as well as recent additions Adam Hill (fiddle) and guitarists Cale Richardson and Kris Farrow. Along with channeling the electrifying energy JAB’s always brought to the stage since starting in Lubbock in 2006, Somewhere Down The Road encompasses plenty of otherworldly textures, achieved in part through their addition and graceful use of synth. “We mixed this record to be listened to through headphones, so that you can pick up on a lot of elements you might not notice otherwise,” says Abbott. “Dwight and I spent so much time focusing on those little moments for people who want to listen closely.”

“In a way we sequenced this record the exact opposite of how we’d usually do it,” Abbott says. “Instead of starting with the upbeat, lighthearted songs, we opened with some of the more experimental tracks, then moved into the ballads, and ended the album with the usually upbeat burners that typically would start an album of ours. This feels like a whole new chapter for our band, so it made sense to present it in a completely different way.”

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