Since the release of his stellar debut album Wish You Were Here in 2019, Joshua Ray Walker has become one of the most talked about artists in the Americana and alt-country realms. With a show-stopping voice and a sound that puts a modern shine on classic honky tonk arrangements, Walker has earned widespread critical acclaim and a devoted fanbase. 

Ray spent years playing gigs across his home state of Texas and beyond, channeling his experiences and the characters he met while out on the road in his own songwriting. In 2021, he released his latest record See You Next Time, the final installment of a concept album trilogy that kicked off with his debut and continued with 2020's Glad You Made It. Filled with engaging story-songs that aim a magnifying glass at life's fleeting moments, the record shows Walker's musical versatility and lyrical expertise.

His current single, "Sexy After Dark," is an energizing yet sultry track that shows off a different side of the 29-year-old talent. Last night (Feb. 1), he made his late night debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon with a groovy full-band performance of the song, which you can watch in full above.

Below, Walker tells the story behind "Sexy After Dark" in his own words.

"I wrote the song during the pandemic and I knew it was pretty far outside of my wheelhouse. What I had done up to that point was pretty straight honky-tonk storyteller country. I love the "Slow Hand" era, Conway [Twitty] country stuff and I just never tried making anything in that vein before, so I wanted to give it a shot. I had written that hook, "I feel sexy after dark," and then the first couple lines and the first verse. Then, when I put it in that context of a soul/country/R&B-type song, it just kind of clicked and made sense.

I really do enjoy that kind of spark you have when you meet someone new out at a bar. I travel a lot for work, so I meet a lot of people in bars where I know I'm never going to see them again, so you can kind of be as open as you want to be. You can say what you want to say and do what you want to do. You don't have to be worried about what someone thinks of you in that situation. I think I just missed that, being cooped up in my house for over a year. I was thinking about what I missed about going to bars, because it wasn't really the drinking or playing pool or going out with my friends. It was that initial spark you have with a stranger where you start drinking and you tell each other your whole life story for a few hours. It can be romantic, it can be platonic... it's just that kind of initial spark of talking to a new person that is always kind of exciting that I tried to capture in the song.

I was proud of the lyrics, but I was still pretty unsure whether or not the band would like it or if it would make sense on the album. When it was time to take it into the studio, we played the first riff and, I immediately knew, this is going to be on the album. It just really clicked when the band was together and we laid down the first like rough take of it. I really pushed my vocals in the studio to places they hadn't been before. I like doing that in the studio because it forces me to be able to do that live. I might try something on a record, and then it gives me a few months to figure out how to actually do it consistently."

Joshua Ray Walker, "Sexy After Dark" Lyrics:

I feel sexy after dark
My conscience finds it hard to see
I'll share pieces of my heart
Fewer words make me sound so smart
I'll let 'em slip out slowly
Trading glances, clicking glasses 'til we part
I feel sexy after dark
You say that you're always gonna get your way
I play games

I feel sexy after dark
Be any me I wanna be
Anticipation is a lost art
Saw it coming from the very start
You say you want a go, my vision dances
Locked in trances, feel that spark
I feel sexy after darkYou say that you're always gonna get your way
I play games
I feel sexy after dark
The conscience finds it hard to see
I sharе pieces of my heart
Fеwer words make me sound so smart
I feel sexy after dark

Willie Nelson: See the Red-Headed Stranger Through the Years