In some parts of the South, there's an accent where every conversation sounds like a song. Brent Cobb, a native of the small town of Ellaville, Ga., doesn't quite whistle through his teeth when he speaks, but he does push more air into his S's when he sings. When he sings "Solving Problems," a song about a Sunday-afternoon bull session, at the NPR Music offices, the words shimmer like a tall glass of sweet tea in the late-morning sun when he strings together a particularly consonant phrase: "Conversation covers everything and in between, from Grandpa's health to marrying good girls."
"Solving Problems" comes from Shine On Rainy Day, his major-label debut produced by distant cousin Dave Cobb; it's nearly a decade in the making. Brent Cobb spent those years on Nashville's Music Row, writing songs for the likes of Luke Bryan, Little Big Town and Miranda Lambert. But where most songwriters write for the performer, Cobb plainly says, "If I write a song, they're always for me. If someone wants to record it, I think they should record it."
Cobb is a conversational lyricist who dispenses normal but precisely crafted phrases amid simple-yet-rich melodies. He skips from Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried" to family to making "plans to do what we ain't done yet." He takes a funny story about his uncle and bends the truth a bit for the quiet holler "Down In The Gulley." His songwriting lineage shines through in "Country Bound," written by his daddy; here, it features a bouncing solo from J Kott, whom Cobb jokingly calls "our bass player/lead guitarist."
Encouraged by the crowd to play one more song, Cobb closes with the sobering "Shine On Rainy Day." While he weaves plenty of wit into his lyrics, Cobb can devastate just as easily: "Ain't it funny how a little thunder make a man start to wonder, 'Should I swim or just go under?'" Just as we struggle to find the silver lining in Cobb's clouds, the song ends and he asks with a smile, "What do we do now?"
Shine On Rainy Day is available now. (iTunes) (Amazon)
"Down In The Gulley"
- "Shine On Rainy Day"
Brent Cobb (vocals, guitar); J Kott (vocals, bass); Steve Smith (drums).
Producers: Lars Gotrich, Niki Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Niki Walker, Nicole Boliaux; Production Assistant: Anna Marketti; Photo: Claire Harbage/NPR.
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