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Brent Cobb

Brent Cobb follows in the footsteps of his country music heroes with his new gospel album, And Now, Let’s Turn to Page…. By offering eight familiar hymns alongside an original song written with his wife, the collection feels reverent as well as rowdy — and completely in his comfort zone.

Brent cites a near-death experience as the push he needed to finally make And Now, Let’s Turn to Page…. In July 2020, the vehicle he was driving, with his young son inside, got T-boned at a rural four-way stop. That crash made him think about everything that led up to that moment — the fact that he didn’t have his daughter with him because his mother offered to watch her, or that he took a different way to his parents’ house that day, or that he had to turn around and get something he’d forgotten in the house before heading out. “You just start piecing together how everything is sort of intentional,” he says. “And again, I’d always had it in the back of my mind to make a gospel album. That moment of clarity, of almost getting killed, made me think I should just make the gospel album now.”

Produced by Dave Cobb in RCA Studio A in Nashville, And Now, Let’s Turn to Page… continues a tradition established by legends such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Willie Nelson, and Elvis Presley, who could invoke their spiritual side without losing sight of their musical foundation. “I’ve always wanted to make a southern gospel album because it’s what I come from, but also it used to seem like a rite of passage for country singers to make a gospel album,” Brent says. “It all comes from gospel music. That’s where country music came from. I’m just trying to carry that torch.”

Because Dave and Brent are cousins, there’s an inherent family feeling that runs throughout these nine songs. In a literal sense, with Brent’s parents and sister joining him in the studio for the first time on this heartfelt project. And also in a more symbolic manner, with Brent singing the same hymns passed down through generations of Cobb ancestors. His grandfather, whose loud singing voice still resonates in the family’s memory, led the congregation singing at the Antioch Baptist Church in Ellaville, GA until he passed on that role to his Brent’s father. Brent’s aunts and uncles remain actively involved in the congregation, too.

Born and raised in Georgia, Brent returned to his home state a few years ago after establishing a career as one of Nashville’s most creative and compelling songwriters. He explains that he considers each of his past albums like a message to his kids: Keep ‘Em on They Toes explores his thoughts, Providence Canyon describes the people who influenced his life, and the Grammy-nominated Shine on Rainy Day reveals who he is. For the gospel album, he adds, “this is what I believe in.”

“I grew up around all of this music through my dad’s gospel group,” he says, “and it made me learn how to appreciate it. I grew up with rock ‘n’ roll and my dad’s band and country music. Anything that you experience in life is going to influence who you become and who you are, so it doesn’t feel like I’m changing it up on this album. It’s like, this is all one thing.”

From the openings bars of “Just a Closer Walk With Thee,” a listener is invited to a place where Jesus is found at the side of a sinner. Rather than feeling like a sermon, it’s a moment of encouragement where Brent’s authenticity in the gospel field is unmistakable. Following that hymn, “When It’s My Time” (written with his wife, Layne Cobb, and Mike Harmeier of Mike and the Moonpies) serves as a mission statement for making the most of our years on Earth — and for living life the way you want to. He sings, “When it’s my time, I’m gonna go / There is no reason for me to stay / I did all the dancing that could have been done / I would have been gone anyway.”

Those listeners raised in the church will instantly recognize the titles — and almost certainly the indelible melodies — of “In the Garden” and “Softly and Tenderly.” Meanwhile, the undeniable groove and powerful vocals on “Are You Washed in the Blood” wouldn’t feel out of place at a revival. In contrast, “Old Rugged Cross” lends a somber air as a simple acoustic arrangement subtly expands to include a gospel choir, steel guitar, and church organ. Adding to the sense of community, rising country artist Caylee Hammack — who also grew up in Ellaville — harmonizes on four of the songs.

Throughout And Now, Let’s Turn to Page… Brent’s rich baritone keeps the album focused, though never stiff. Not unlike an altar call, the mood elevates on “We Shall Rise,” a rambunctious tune that would fit neatly into his setlist. A testimony of fellowship is found in the bluegrass gospel staple, “Old Country Church,” which features his father Patrick Cobb’s gospel group, Antioch. In a brief benediction of “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds,” he’s surrounded by the people that matter the most, including his wife, mother, father and younger sister. And as their harmonies fade, it’s abundantly clear that Brent is more than capable of extending this sacred country music tradition.

“I know what matters to me and what I think I should focus on for my own life, but it might be different for somebody else,” he concludes. “I don’t know a whole lot about anything, but I know that it matters to me to incorporate the way that it all makes me feel, and to try to translate that to other people. And that’s what all of this is — my family, gospel music, and the church. All of it.”

For his fourth album, Keep ‘Em on They Toes, Brent Cobb is giving his songs the space they need to speak for themselves, a reflection of his own decision to write about the way he sees the world.

“My last couple of albums have been about people and places, and I wanted this album to be about thoughts and feelings,” he says. “I think it’s pretty easy to look around and see what’s going on in the world. With my heroes and the people that I listen to, it seems like the natural progression for me.”

Yet at his core, Cobb still writes country songs, so there’s a continuity between Keep ‘Em on They Toes and past projects like 2016’s Shine on Rainy Day (a Grammy nominee for Best Americana Album) and 2018’s Providence Canyon, named for a gorge near his hometown of Ellaville, Georgia. After living in Los Angeles and Nashville to develop his music career, Cobb and his family moved back to Georgia a few years ago — a decision that he says absolutely affected his songwriting.

“It’s funny because the last two albums were about me growing up in Georgia, and now we’re back here,” he says. “I’m not writing about missing it anymore, so the songs are coming from within now. It’s not a longing for home, it’s what I think about now that I live down here.”

Cobb and members of his band recorded the project in Durham, North Carolina, with producer Brad Cook. “All of his records sound so sparse, but there’s a lot of space being taken up at the same time,” Cobb says. Inspired by the spaciousness of classic country albums like Jerry Lee Lewis’ 1977 LP, Country Memories, the new project allows the listener to hear everything that’s going on, yet the songs remain the star of the show.

Throughout Keep ‘Em on They Toes, Cobb is diplomatic rather than political — although he’s been told numerous times over the years that artists shouldn’t voice their opinions. He disputes that notion. “I’m a songwriter for a living,” he says. “My job is to write about what I see and think and feel and hear.”

Cobb and his wife Layne co-wrote the title track as if imparting wisdom to their newborn son, yet he believes that anybody can get on board with its message: “The best thing you can do / When the ignorance shows / Is walk on to your own beat / Keep ’em on they toes.” Cobb says he wrote most of the other songs around that song. But… They Toes? “That’s just how country folks talk,” he says.

Next, in “Shut Up and Sing,” he reflects on the relationship between artists and social media followers with a clash of fiddle and harmonica conveying the static of two differing opinions. That’s followed by a simple country song called “Good Times and Good Love,” which he co-wrote with longtime buddy Luke Bryan (who also plays piano on the track). What ties these two songs together, Cobb believes, is the notion that nothing is going to last forever. Why not enjoy the time we have left?

Still, the obligations of adulthood add a sense of dry humor to “Sometimes I’m a Clown,” while “This Side of the River” serves as a mature reflection on this time in his life. And for those who feel the need to tell him — and everybody else — how to live, he poetically brushes them off with “Dust Under My Rug.”

Yet there isn’t a preachy component to Keep ‘Em on They Toes. Instead it captures the mindset of a man who values a simpler time despite living in a modern world. One of the album’s liveliest songs, “Soap Box,” was written by Cobb and his father, Patrick Cobb, who instilled an early love of music and songwriting into his son. Nikki Lane provides a “perfectly imperfect” harmony part, giving the track a cool, casual vibe.

In contrast, Cobb built the track of “When You Go” around his acoustic guitar, underscoring the song’s message of letting go of unnecessary things. “It’s like, man, we’ve only got one life. A lot of things are important, and of course we’ve got a world to leave behind for our kids to inherit, but we ain’t gonna be able take some of the things with us. We need to maybe not sweat the small stuff,” he explains.

While “The World Is Ending” fits into the overall feel of the album (not to mention the COVID-19 pandemic), it’s actually from 2011, written in response to those who predicted a doomsday when the Mayan calendar ran out in 2012. The cosmic imagery of the song is contrasted with the down-home life he portrays in “Little Stuff,” the final track on the album as well as Cobb’s personal favorite.

“It fits because — I’ll be honest with you — over the last couple of years I’ve eaten a lot of mushrooms. I’ve had a crazy experience on mushrooms about how connected everything is,” he says. “I actually went down to a little creek and tripped. I thought, ‘All we’re here to do is sit and watch the sun rise and set, for as long as we’re here.’ You’ve got your opinion, I’ve got mine, but what I think is really important is taking a trip to the river and getting right with whatever your center is.”

Even so, Cobb forges a personal connection throughout Keep ‘Em on They Toes, just as his musical heroes have done before him.

“To me, listening to this album feels like I’m sitting there with somebody, having a conversation,” Cobb says. “I would hope that it feels like sitting with an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. There’s nothing like being alone and listening to an album that is quiet and conversational — like those old records by Jerry Lee Lewis, Roger Miller, or Willie Nelson. I hope my music is that way to somebody now.”

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BRENT COBB
Keep ‘Em on They Toes

For his fourth album, Keep ‘Em on They Toes, Brent Cobb is giving his songs the space they need to speak for themselves, a reflection of his own decision to write about the way he sees the world. “My last couple of albums have been about people and places, and I wanted this album to be about thoughts and feelings,” he says. At his core, Cobb still writes country songs, so there’s a continuity between Keep ‘Em on They Toes and past projects like 2016’s Shine on Rainy Day (a Grammy nominee for Best Americana Album) and 2018’s Providence Canyon. After living in LA and Nashville to develop his music career, Cobb and his family moved back to Georgia a few years ago– a decision that affected his songwriting. “It’s funny because the last two albums were about me growing up in Georgia, and now we’re back here,” he says. “I’m not writing about missing it anymore, so the songs are coming from within now. It’s not a longing for home, it’s what I think about now that I live down here.” Cobb and his band recorded the project in Durham, North Carolina, with producer Brad Cook. Inspired by the spaciousness of classic country albums like Jerry Lee Lewis’ 1977 Country Memories, the new project allows the listener to hear everything that’s going on, yet the songs remain the star of the show. Keep ‘Em on They Toes, Cobb captures the mindset of a man who values a simpler time despite living in a modern world. “To me, listening to this album feels like I’m sitting there with somebody, having a conversation,” Cobb says. “I would hope that it feels like sitting with an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile. There’s nothing like being alone and listening to an album that is quiet and conversational–like those old records by Jerry Lee Lewis, Roger Miller, or Willie Nelson. I hope my music is that way to somebody now.”

KENDELL MARVEL
Solid Gold Sounds

Kendell Marvel wrote and recorded his new album, Solid Gold Sounds, in a matter of days, but it took a life time in country music to get there. Marvel and The Black Keys’ Auerbach co-wrote nine of the album’s 10 songs, drawing on the country sounds of the ‘70s as well as Marvel’s own experiences. Their songwriting collaborators include country legend John Anderson on the album’s first track, “Hard Time With the Truth. ”A native of Southern Illinois, Marvel moved to Nashville at 28, shifting his goal of being an artist to raising his family while working as a song writer. Marvel’s writing credits include Gary Allan’s “Right Where I Need to Be” and Chris Stapleton’s Grammy-winning single, “Either Way.” Brothers Osborne, Jamey Johnson, Jake Owen, Blake Shelton, George Strait, and Lee Ann Womack have also cut his songs.

Click here for our Covid protocols

BRENT COBB
Keep ‘Em on They Toes

For his fourth album, Keep ‘Em on They Toes, Brent Cobb is giving his songs the space they need to speak for themselves, a reflection of his own decision to write about the way he sees the world. “My last couple of albums have been about people and places, and I wanted this album to be about thoughts and feelings,” he says. At his core, Cobb still writes country songs, so there’s a continuity between Keep ‘Em on They Toes and past projects like 2016’s Shine on Rainy Day (a Grammy nominee for Best Americana Album) and 2018’s Providence Canyon. After living in LA and Nashville to develop his music career, Cobb and his family moved back to Georgia a few years ago– a decision that affected his songwriting. “It’s funny because the last two albums were about me growing up in Georgia, and now we’re back here,” he says. “I’m not writing about missing it anymore, so the songs are coming from within now. It’s not a longing for home, it’s what I think about now that I live down here.” Cobb and his band recorded the project in Durham, North Carolina, with producer Brad Cook. Inspired by the spaciousness of classic country albums like Jerry Lee Lewis’ 1977 Country Memories, the new project allows the listener to hear everything that’s going on, yet the songs remain the star of the show. Keep ‘Em on They Toes, Cobb captures the mindset of a man who values a simpler time despite living in a modern world. “To me, listening to this album feels like I’m sitting there with somebody, having a conversation,” Cobb says. “I would hope that it feels like sitting with an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile. There’s nothing like being alone and listening to an album that is quiet and conversational–like those old records by Jerry Lee Lewis, Roger Miller, or Willie Nelson. I hope my music is that way to somebody now.”

KENDELL MARVEL
Solid Gold Sounds

Kendell Marvel wrote and recorded his new album, Solid Gold Sounds, in a matter of days, but it took a life time in country music to get there. Marvel and The Black Keys’ Auerbach co-wrote nine of the album’s 10 songs, drawing on the country sounds of the ‘70s as well as Marvel’s own experiences. Their songwriting collaborators include country legend John Anderson on the album’s first track, “Hard Time With the Truth. ”A native of Southern Illinois, Marvel moved to Nashville at 28, shifting his goal of being an artist to raising his family while working as a song writer. Marvel’s writing credits include Gary Allan’s “Right Where I Need to Be” and Chris Stapleton’s Grammy-winning single, “Either Way.” Brothers Osborne, Jamey Johnson, Jake Owen, Blake Shelton, George Strait, and Lee Ann Womack have also cut his songs.

With a GRAMMY nomination under his belt and two major label albums to his credit, Brent Cobb is embarking this spring on a stripped back acoustic tour in seated venues with the assist of an accompanist. He decided that it was important for his fan base to hear the songs showcased the way they were written, giving his award winning lyrics their due. The tour will kick off in Austin, Texas this February and run through the month of March.

 

Cobb’s songwriting career does not begin and end with his solo accomplishments. Brent has also secured cuts with Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, and Lee Ann Womack, and toured with artists like Chris Stapleton and Margo Price. He received a Grammy nomination for Best Americana Album for 2016’s Shine On Rainy Day, and issued his most personal album yet, 2018’s Providence Canyon.

 

As 2019 was winding down, he dropped the single “Feet Off the Ground” with Jade Bird, released a three-part video series called Come Home Soon, and completed his headlining Sucker for a Good Time Tour.

 

He credits his touring history for inspiring the quicker pace of the material on Providence Canyon. “I’ve always liked the funkier side of country and the funkier side of rock,” he explains. “Those influences have been a part of me for years, but they’re really coming to the forefront now. When you’re touring with Chris Stapleton, and you’re performing to a crowd of 10,000 people before he hits the stage, you find yourself wanting to play something upbeat.”

 

If Shine On Rainy Day felt like a laidback country album for front-porch picking sessions, then Providence Canyon is built for something bigger. This is music for juke joints, pool halls, and roadhouses, filled with electric guitar (performed by Cobb’s touring bandmate, Mike Harris), B3 organ, percussive groove, and co-ed harmonies. Each song was captured in a small number of takes, with Brent and Dave Cobb relying on instinct and spur-of-the-moment ideas.

 

“It’s in the blood,” Brent says of his connection to his cousin, who has overseen award-winning records for Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, and Chris Stapleton, as well as Shine On Rainy Day and Providence Canyon. “We didn’t grow up together, but we’re so similar in our approaches. It’s important to me to do this with him, because these songs are about the places I’m from, the places I’ve visited, and the people who’ve taken me there. My family is all over these songs.”

 

Cobb doubles down on his commitment to his wife and daughter with “Ain’t a Road Too Long,” whose mix of Bible Belt boogie-woogie and Southern rock channels influences like the Band. On the drawling, guitar-driven “Mornin’s Gonna Come” and “Sucker for a Good Time,” he battles against the temptations of the road, where the drinks are free and the nights are long. Then, on the album’s breezy title track, he casts his mind back to his teenage years and trips to Providence Canyon, a 150-feet gorge in the sandy clay of southwest Georgia, less than an hour’s drive from Cobb’s hometown.

 

“Growing up, I didn’t know the definition of ‘providence,’” he admits. “I looked it up in my early 20s, and the definition is something like ‘the protective power of God—or nature—as a spiritual power.’ When I read that, it inspired the whole song. I was 23 at the time, and I missed the old days and the freedom of youth. Years later, I still try to keep my music honest and somehow sacred.”

Acclaimed singer, songwriter and performer Brent Cobb will embark on the “Ain’t A Road Too Long” headline tour in 2018.  The 2018 headline tour takes its name from Cobb’s new single, “Ain’t A Road Too Long,” which was produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb and can now be heard/shared HERE and purchased HERE (Low Country Sound/Elektra Records). Of the song NPR Music’s Ann Powers praises, “…an anthem for the laborers who make music possible—a funny, sweet and funky talking blues in which Cobb counts his blessings while acknowledging the sweat equity it took to secure them…Cobb and his collaborators find transcendence in soul’s leavening and the grease of rock ‘n’ roll.”

Cobb was born in Americus, Georgia, about an hour east of Columbus, in the rural south-central part of the state. His breakthrough major label debut album, Shine On Rainy Day, was produced by Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, etc.) and was released in 2016 on Low Country Sound/Elektra Records. Since it’s release, the album has continued to garner overwhelming acclaim leading to a recent Americana Honors & Awards nomination for “Emerging Artist of the Year” as well as a break-out television debut on CONAN. Of the album, The Tennessean declared, “…an outstanding piece of work and a collection of true, country songs,” while WXPN World Café asserted, “…a gorgeous solo album that promises to place him in the top echelon of this century’s young troubadours…” In addition to his work as an artist, Cobb is widely respected as a songwriter garnering cuts by Luke Bryan, The Oak Ridge Boys, Little Big Town, Miranda Lambert and more.