Expect to see a lot more of Americana troubadour Joshua Ray Walker. The Dallas-based singer-songwriter had a breakout year in 2019, thanks to his debut full-length album, Wish You Were Here, and he followed it up in 2020 with Glad You Made It.

Walker is the definition of an old soul: Having started his life as a musician by gigging with touring bands in high school, Walker has seen a lot in his 20-something years, and that hard-earned wisdom shines through his evocative lyrics. Tracks such as "Canyon" and "Working Girl" are stunning examples of the way that Walker blends lyrics and melodies into tunes that will make you think, laugh and cry — or all three at once.

Like what you hear but don’t know much about Walker? Flip through the gallery below for five essential facts about one of country music’s most promising — and poignant — songwriters.

He’s a Born-and-Raised Texan, and He's Planning to Keep It That Way

An East Dallas native, Walker is dedicated to staying in Texas and helping the local music scene in his city flourish. As he told D Magazine in 2019, he doesn’t have any plans to decamp from Dallas and make the move to Nashville, especially considering that it’s only a short drive away.

His dedication to his city is also evident in his music: Wish You Were Here was released on the Dallas-based label State Fair Records, and recorded at Garland's Autumn Sound Studios, where Willie Nelson recorded his iconic album Red Headed Stranger.

He's Been Playing in Bands Since He Was a Teenager

Even though he’s a newcomer to the national country scene, Walker is no stranger to the stage. He started playing guitar at the age of 12, then worked as a gigging musician in backing bands in Dallas before writing his first country song at the age of 19. Since then, he’s maintained a ridiculously busy show schedule — more than 250 nights every year! — and shared the stage with acts such as the Old 97’s, Vandoliers, Colter Wall and American Aquarium’s BJ Barham.

His Songs Often Come From Unique, Distinct Characters ...

In songs such as “Working Girl,” which tells the story of an underage sex worker, Walker uses characters — real or fictional — to explore both his own emotions and the human condition.

“I can usually attribute a character to a person I’ve met, or people that I’ve known, combined with similar traits I find in myself,” he says. “If it’s by poor decisions or circumstances beyond their control, I find inspiration from the downtrodden and destitute. I see myself in these characters. I use these characters to explore things about myself in songs I’d otherwise be too self-conscious to write about.”

... But When He Writes About Himself, Magic Happens

Although Walker often uses characters in his songwriting, the most poignant moments come when he’s talking about himself. For evidence of that fact, look to his breakout single, “Canyon,” which explores his up-and-down relationship with his father, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2016. The same can be said for “Fondly,” a lonely, reminiscing song about the end of a relationship.

He's the King of Hilarious, One-Liner Lyrics

Pay close attention to the lyrics in Walker’s songs, because there’s often a little bit of ironic hilarity in those words: For example, “I laid in bed for an hour today / Tryin’ to die of natural causes,” he sings in “Keep.” “In case the Lord forgot to take me in my sleep / I grew tired of waitin’ / Exacerbated, I rolled off my mattress in a heap.”

And then there’s “Last Call,” a cheeky song about the bleak romantic prospects that await after a long night at the bar.

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