Joshua Davis Talks Takeaways From 'The Voice,' Shares 'Let Me In' From New Album

David James Swanson
Joshua Davis

Joshua Davis' takeaway from The Voice was...well, his voice.

The Michigan singer-songwriter -- who finished third on Season 8 of the hit NBC show in 2015 -- was a veteran already, on his own and as part of the band Steppin' In It. But he credits the program, and especially vocal coach Trelawny Rose, with making an impact that can be heard on his upcoming album The Way Back Home. The LP's first single, "Let Me In," is premiering exclusively below.

"Before The Voice I never thought of myself as a singer first," Davis tells Billboard. "So being on The Voice and working with Trelawny five or six times a week really changed the way I thought about my voice and how I should use it. It kind of caught me by surprise; I focus on my songwriting mostly, and I didn't realize how much [the vocal coaching] would affect the way I write songs. Now where I"m supposed to be singing has totally changed the way I write melodies and the keys I write in and the way I write songs. It had a really huge effect." 

"Let Me In," according to Davis, is "a perfect example" of that new perspective he describes. "When I started to write that song I put it in this key that was kind of a sweet spot that's on the edge of 'Am I gonna be able to hit this?' It's like rolling the dice every time I sing the song," Davis explains. "The song is really vocal heavy, and there's these breaks where there's these soaring notes -- That's something I think I never would've had the confidence to do before I was on [the show]. But I realized I could do that stuff now, so I might as well use it."

Davis recorded The Way Back Home last fall, mostly in East Lansing, Michigan, with Steve Berlin of Los Lobos -- the first time Davis has worked with an outside producer. "At first I was a little bit wary because I'm a control freak when it comes to music," acknowledges Davis, whose band on the album included Jack White's bassist Dominic John Davis, pianist Mike Lynch (Willie Nelson, Leon Russell) and drummer Mike Shimmin (The Ollam). "But [Los Lobos] is a band that's been an inspiration of mine for a really long time, so when we figured out (Berlin) was an option I jumped on it, and it was a good call. It was challenging for me in a lot of ways, but I think it definitely made it a better album, a more cohesive album. He's got an amazing ear; I don't even understand some of hte stuff he heard, the little minute differences. So it was an incredible learning experience."

After having most of June off, Davis will be hitting the road again during July, as well as teaching at a songwriting conference in Asheville, North Carolina. He'll be touring earnest after The Way Back Home comes out on Sept. 8, and expects to be out with a full band into the middle of December. 

"I'm always kind of thinking about what the next step is," Davis says. "I have a huge social media following because of The Voice, and there's a lot of places I can go now -- or bigger places I can play -- because of that. I have tons of fans in Brazil, tons of fans in the Philippines. I played a huge festival in Malaysia a few months ago and a ton of people knew me there. I'm hoping to get over to Europe; That's something I've never done before. I've been doing this on a [regional] level for so long it's still a little weird to think of it as national -- but that's a nice thing, too."