Photography by Kendall Wilson
There was a definite buzz about the festival in the lead up to Joshua Ray Walker's Saturday performance. Having just released his all-female pop covers album, What Is It Even?, the Dallas, Texas hailing artist has been a hot topic of late, so it's no wonder the UK crowds were keen to get a slice of the action.
Though the most recent album offers his takes on a selection of truly iconic songs - Whitney Houston's 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody', Sinead O'Connor's 'Nothing Compares 2 U' and Beyoncé's 'Halo', to name but a few - Walker's own songwriting is driven by characters found dwelling in small bars late at night, drifting their ways along life's winding path.
Those were brought to life during his intimate set at the Long Road, one which also marked his debut UK performance.
Walker kicked things off with 'Bronco Billy's' to a lounging crowd at the Front Porch, his expert yodel already whiskey smooth, before then offering stripped-back renditions of 'Boat Show Girl', 'Lot Lizard' and 'Working Girl', all accompanied by effortless guitar noodling.
Perhaps part of Walker's allure is his anti-mainstream demeanour. He offers something more than the cookie cutter format, instead performing deeply evocative songs curated with storytelling flair and an outlaw spirit, much like many a Texan country forebear.
Though it would've been nice to see him amped up with a full band to really experience the depth of his sound, this set did actually seem to fit perfectly. Intimate, mellow and personal, there was something very special about witnessing his UK debut.
As he rambled his way through numbers including 'Cowboy', 'Canyon' and a new, yet-to-be-named original, Joshua Ray Walker's stardom was shiningly clear. Even Chapel Hart and Rissi Palmer could be spotted by the side of the stage swaying along in appreciation, soon joined by the crowd in a set-ending standing ovation.
Taken from his performance at The Long Road festival in Leicestershire, UK on Saturday 26th August
1. Bronco Billy's
2. Boat Show Girl
4. Lot Lizard
5. Working Girl
8. New original song, not yet named.
9. Sexy After Dark
For more on The Long Road festival, see below: