Josh Merritt set out to tell a conceptual story on his new album “206.” While the number 206 signals the album’s release date of February 6, it’s also the theme of overcoming.
With an affinity for albums and complete storytelling, Merritt said he wanted it to have a beginning, middle, and end — like the albums he loves. So, approaching the album with 18 prewritten songs, he began trimming at the weeds.
The tracks were written alongside a relationship, he said. While that may be source material, the album is not a breakup album, at least not wholly.
“In some ways, it is, but I think it’s more of a relationship album than a breakup album because the album doesn’t necessarily talk about just a breakup,” he said.
The 8-track album starts with the song “You Made Home Come Home to Me,” which recounts the start of a budding relationship. Subsequent tracks like “Give It To Me” are angrier songs that take you through an emotional battle, he said.
The latter track was released as a single in early December. The album’s rollout has included a music video from both “Give it To Me” and “Easier Alone.” In producing the video for “Easier Alone,” he said they wanted to shift the storyline from the original lens of coping after a breakup.
Instead of a broken heart, Merritt said they opted to depict an elderly widow coping with the death of her husband.
“That just really touched people. I had close to 1,000 messages from people saying what it meant to them and how they could relate, and that was beautiful,” Merritt said.
As for the rest of the album, Merritt said the writing process was all about painting the complete picture of how his entire world looked during that time.
He wrote one song for his daughter, aptly titled “Journey’s Song.”
Sitting at track 5, he said his daughter wasn’t a part of the ended relationship, but she still had to deal with the effects of it.
“So we said let’s put this song on the album to signify that, and I placed it directly in the middle of the album,” he said.
The album also includes a cover of Darrell Scott’s 2004 song “River Take Me.”
Merritt said that Scott had been a long-time favorite songwriter of his, and with the subject matter of the album, Merritt said there was no better fit for the story he was telling.
Merritt recounted one line — “A man out of work only gets in the way” — saying to him, it encapsulates the relationship during the time of his life.
“It’s about a family. There’s a storm going on outside, and the man has lost his job, and he’s talking about the depressive side of being out of work and being home with his family,” Merritt said. “… That I chose to use that song for that not necessarily because it was my favorite or it is my favorite but just for the significance of the concept.”
As for the album’s title, he said it signifies encouragement through change. He said he found those same themes while he was healing from the relationship. They initially didn’t set out for a February 6 release, but with various delays, the new release date worked out to match the title.
“It’s a sign for me to chalk this up to a moment of growth and prosperity to come in ahead,” Merritt said.