If you want to know what Josh Kelley‘s life has been like the past few years, he’s been “Busy Making Memories” — as evidenced by the video for his new single, premiering exclusively on Billboard today (Nov. 21).
The video for the song, which Kelley made with his wife, actress Katherine Heigl, is set mostly at the couple’s home in Utah and features real-life family footage with their three children (two adopted) and Kelley’s father. The song was conceived, he tells Billboard, at the beginning of the year, in the midst of a post-holidays hangover.
“It was right after all of our friends and family left our house, and I’m watching my kids dancing around and because of the hangover they looked like they were in slow motion, which was actually kind of beautiful,” Kelley recalls. “I realized how lucky I am to be able to capture these memories and having these great moments watching them grow up and to be present in their lives. It just came out, almost like I wasn’t in control of the song.”
Kelley says Heigl “loves to do my videos because she can tell me what to do — not that she doesn’t already.” Jokes aside, Kelley says he’s happy to bow to his wife’s superior cinematic skills. “She’s just so unbelievably talented and clever,” he says. “She understands emotional beats. I’ll do a music video [based] on the tempo of the song, and she’s like, ‘That sucks…’ and takes over, and I get to watch it like I’ve never seen it. We’re just capturing the kids being themselves, to be honest with you. Not a whole lot of that stuff was set up.”
“Busy Making Memories” is also the beginning of Kelley’s re-entry into the recording world after a gap since his last album, 2016’s New Lane Road, and his guest appearance on Colt Ford’s 2017 single “Young Americans” with his younger brother, Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum. “I try to do everything slowly now,” Kelley explains. “Over the last three years I’ve found an angle and a different understanding of my life and what I want to represent. I love being a dad and I love being a husband. I’ve been focusing on the family, trying to make sure these kids know who their dad is.” Nevertheless he’s been writing up a storm — 500 or so songs on the runway, he insists, and twice that many in various stages of completion — and Kelley is getting ready to “start putting out a lot more material.”
“I think what’s going to start coming through in the music [is] this family man angle, which is easy for me to write about,” Kelley says. “Fans are smart; They can tell when you’re full of shit. I think they’ll hear the sincerity in these songs.” Kelley is planning another single, “Loverboy,” for February, and a full-length album around mid-year “and then from there just releasing music constantly. If I wanted to, I could probably release one a day, but that might be bad business.”
Kelley is also planning a full-scale return to touring in 2020 after sporadic performances for festivals, private and corporate dates during the past few years. “I’m definitely ready to get back out into the ticketed market,” he says. “Based on what our social media response has been, it looks like people want me to be out there touring, so I’m glad to do that.”
Kelley has particularly enjoyed playing acoustic shows, which he says have “turned into a lot of comedy and a lot of heart, there’s a lot of variety to it. The City Winery type venues, that’s my bread and butter. It’s intimate, and I like to make people drink and then laugh and then cry.”
Kelley’s 2020 tour dates are below.
3/5 — New York City, NY @ City Vineyard – City Winery
3/6 — Boston, MA @ The Haymarket Lounge at City Winery
3/8 — Philadelphia, PA @ The Loft at City Winery
3/19 — Atlanta, GA @ City Winery
3/22 — Nashville, TN @ City Winery
4/29 — Chicago, IL @ City Winery
Listen to “Busy Making Memories” below.