Dallas rising star Joshua Ray Walker pays tribute to Lizzo, Cher and more on new covers LP

Joshua Ray Walker, wearing a fuzzy pink robe, stands in front of a pink, white and red wall.

Joshua Ray Walker
Photo: David McClister

Raise your hand if you had “Joshua Ray Walker covering Lizzo” on your 2023 bingo card.

In the latest display of his extraordinary versatility and dynamic talent, the Dallas-based singer-songwriter has announced a new project, What Is It Even?, arriving Aug. 4. It follows Walker’s widely acclaimed third LP, 2021’s See You Next Time.

The 11 new tracks, which Walker recorded with his touring band, the Texas Strangers (drummer Trey Pendergrass, bassist Billy Bones and pedal steel player Adam “Ditch” Kurtz) and producer John Pedigo, finds the rising star covering a variety of artists — all of whom are female.

“Whether it’s the songwriting, performance, or production I have always been drawn to female artists, especially female pop artists,” Walker said in a statement. “I owe my vocal range to my adolescent attempts at singing radio hits at the top of my lungs when no one was listening. I appreciate the art of a good hook because of the ear worms recorded by these artists, and the confidence they exude has influenced me as a person beyond music.”

He’s leading off paying tribute to another Texan, with his vivid rendition of Lizzo’s “Cuz I Love You.”

Walker also covered The Cranberries with an assist from Tenacious D’s Kyle Gass (“Linger”), as well as Whitney Houston (“I Wanna Dance with Somebody”), Dolly Parton (“Joshua”) and Cher (“Believe”).

“Life keeps moving no matter what, and I’ve learned in the last few years that accomplishing career goals doesn’t necessarily equate to contentment or happiness,” Walker said in a statement. “I am so grateful for the experiences that pursuing music has brought me, and I’m fully aware that none of it would be possible without the support of my family, friends and fans.

“That being said, I really wanted to make something just because I felt like it. Because it’s fun. Because I can. That’s what What Is It Even? is all about! We had a great time making the record, so I hope you have a great time listening.”

Walker is spending the next several months touring across the United States and Europe, including stops at the Stockholm Roots Festival and the United Kingdom’s Long Road Festival in August. His next local performance will be in September, as an opening act for the Mavericks at the Majestic Theatre on Sept. 22.

Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.