Joshua Hedley is “a singing professor of country & western,” he declares on his raucous and witty new album, Neon Blue. It might sound like a punchline, but it’s not. An ace fiddle player, a sharp guitarist, and a singer with a granite twang, he’s devoted his entire life to the study of this genre. His previous records have showcased his deep knowledge of country musics history, in particular the beery ballads of the 1950s and ‘60s. Neon Blue, on the other hand, examines a very different, often forsaken era: the early 1990s. Neon Blue asks, What if that fork had never happened? What if country kept on sounding like country?” Hedley finds something exciting in that old hat-act sound, and Neon Blue plays up the excitement of bigger-than-life choruses, the relatable emotions of those sad-eyed ballads, and the inventiveness of the lively production.