For a country singer, scoring a #1 hit song is often the realization of a life-long dream. It’s a chance to bask in the moment, to rest on your laurels and enjoy the success.
Earlier this year, Josh Ward earned his tenth #1 song on the Texas Country charts. He celebrated by doing what he does most nights: Play another show and entertain another crowd.
“We’re out here getting to do what we love for a living, and it’s really taking off for us. Number Ones are just icing on the cake,” he says of the success.
Ward’s fourth studio album, More Than I Deserve, was released this year, and the lead single, “All About Lovin’,” went to the top of the charts in his native state. His success was hardly limited to Texas though. The album debuted in the Top 20 of the Billboard Heatseekers Chart and the iTunes country albums chart. Ward played shows with breakout Americana/country singer Cody Jinks and traveled throughout the Western United States. Doors are starting to open, and people want to hear Ward’s music.
Ward’s music is unabashedly country, by the way. Songs like “A Cowboy Can,” and “More Than I Deserve” are the perfect antidote to anyone who yearns for the classic country sounds of the 1990s. The title track has a dual meaning. The song itself describes a man who took and took from a woman until his relationship collapsed. The title also sums up how fortunate Ward feels about his musical success.
“I grew up listening to 1970s and ‘80s, definitely ‘90s country music, back in the heyday when the Beaumont Boys – Tracy Byrd, Mark Chesnutt and Clay Walker were hitting it hard,” Ward notes. “I took a little bit of what they did and a little bit of what Willie did back in the day, and that’s the music that I love. It kind of spills over into what I’m doing on my records here.”
That’s not to call it derivative. Ward’s songs are well-crafted and come from some of the best songwriters in the genre today. “All About Lovin’” was written by Terry McBride, Chris Stapleton and Brice Long. Ward’s new single, “Ain’t It Baby,” came from Brett Beavers, Tommy James and James McCormick.
Ward is a talented songwriter in his own right, and many of the album’s highlights are songs he co-wrote with Wyatt McCubbin, including the standout “One More Shot of Whiskey.” He’s just not the type of artist who has to write every song on an album. The impact a song makes is more important than a songwriting credit.
“Teaming up with great writers and surrounding yourself with great people, you’re gonna get great songs. It’s just a matter of sitting down and either writing them or just going to back to a catalog that might have been forgotten and finding that little diamond in the rough,” he says.
The success that Ward has enjoyed has come largely from his own work ethic, as he has stayed an independent artist. He still maintains plenty of ties in Nashville, including many of his songwriting buddies, but for the moment, he prefers the freedom of guiding his own musical career. It’s something he’s done his entire life. Before he got into music, Ward worked everywhere from oil fields to factories and even spent time in the rodeo.
“It was always a passion to me, to sing. I finally turned it into a job, but you want to talk about working for what [you have], I would say that I did,” he says.
With that attitude, “A Cowboy Can” comes across almost as a mission statement for Ward’s life.
“A cowboy is that guy who gets up in the morning, puts his boots on, and gets after it,” he explains. “You can be in business for yourself and be a cowboy. You can be in the oil fields and be a cowboy.”