Shine On Rainy Day
(Low Country Sounds/Elektra)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
It comes as little surprise that roots singer-songwriter Brent Cobb’s debut major label album is not only produced by his famous, Grammy-winning cousin Dave Cobb, but also released on the producer’s Low Country Sounds label. As only the second solo artist on the imprint (the first was Anderson East), Brent Cobb has an advantage most new acts don’t get until later in their careers, or sometimes at all. Thankfully, based on the evidence here, he’s talented enough to justify the jump-started attention.
Producer Cobb takes advantage of performer Cobb’s natural instincts for simple, unadorned, tunes by generally staying out of the way and letting Brent’s easy voice and homespun lyrics dictate the approach. Brent’s songwriting skills have been proven since a 2008 move from Georgia to Nashville yielded tunes that have been recorded by commercial superstars including Miranda Lambert, Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan and Kellie Pickler.
Cobb keeps these songs as homespun as titles such as “Traveling Poor Boy,” “Country Bound” and “Digging Holes,” (“I oughta be working in a coal mine/Lord knows I’m good at digging holes”) imply, singing often in the first person, about struggling to escape poverty.
Perhaps the finest example of Cobb’s abilities is the title track, a bittersweet ballad about beating adversity, sung to a melody so lovely, easy going and hypnotically memorable, you’ll swear you have heard it before, even on the first play. The key throughout is minimalism … keeping the laid back instrumentation out of the way of Cobb’s everyman voice and sharply observed, unpretentious words exemplified by “I got a hollow heart/a pocketful of nothing” on the mid-tempo, dark rocker “Let the Rain Come Down.” He is joined here by backing singers that enhance but never distract from his vision.
Cobb’s description of cooking up moonshine “Down in the Gully,” a story song again told in the first person, transports you down to the backwoods where the poor have few choices for survival. The closing, blues inflected “Black Crow” with its slithering slide guitar and swampy, dangerous vibe about a poor drifter with no options who ends up incarcerated shows how both Cobbs complement each other. Low key instrumentation that perfectly frames the story is highlighted by the haunting, stripped down sound reflecting the narrator’s sense of frustration and desperation.
It’s a trait that pushes all the right buttons throughout the ten tracks on this impressive effort that proves these relatives with impeccable musical synergy have more than just bloodlines in common.