Along with being a spectacular photographer, Nashville’s Joshua Black Wilkins can write a pretty damn good song. A style of his own that mixes blues, roots, and outlaw country comes straight from the heart in the most honest of ways. Lyrically, Wilkins isn’t afraid to provide commentary about what’s happening in the world these days; divisions and lines being drawn because of poisonous points of view affect the United States in damaging ways. On a new digital 7-inch out this week, Wilkins conveys two songs inspired by the current social landscape.
“Bad, Bad News” and “Don’t Go To Alabama” are two emotional ballads that exhibit the pain behind the institution of racism in the Deep South.
“I watch a lot of news, and have since the early ’90s,” Wilkins says. “My writing style is usually very immediate and can be time sensitive, so it was important to me that these two songs be released as early as possible before doing another record. Both songs are inspired by current events socially and politically. I have always been inspired by political and societal songs and the impacts that they can have.”
There’s a certain Tom Waits vibe that “Bad, Bad News” exudes while hearing a banjo being plucked in the distance. “Don’t Go To Alabama” gives a nod to Bruce Springsteen’s acoustic opus Nebraska while also giving fair warning that if you go to the heart of dixie without your stars and bars you might get messed with.
“In recent years it’s become important for all of us to express ourselves, and as a songwriter I choose to do that with my music,” he adds. “They are both written metaphorically of course, but touch deeply of issues that I am greatly affected by. Living in the South for most of my life, I have witnessed the destruction that racism can cause to a community, and so much of that racism still comes from the ‘top down’ from state and local governments. It certainly is not isolated to the State of Alabama, but I did live there for many years before I moved to Nashville, so it is a locale that I am most familiar with.”
Wilkins’ next show isn’t happening until April 8 at The Drinkery in Cincinnati, but he’ll definitely be playing out more after he releases his next album. Plug in to both songs below via his Soundcloud and enjoy.