Though memories of that old country church back home in rural Georgia drive Brent Cobb's new gospel album And Now, Let's Turn to Page... (out Jan. 28 via Ol' Buddy Records), recent developments and the future considerations that come with fatherhood impacted its timing.
"I've always wanted to make a Southern gospel album because it's what I come from and because it's what my heroes all did," Cobb told Wide Open Country. "Historically, if you were a country artist, you had to at least put out some Southern gospel music at some point in your career. When the pandemic happened, and then I got in a wreck in July 2020... Sort of a combination of these things made me go ahead and do it."
A near-death experience during which Cobb's vehicle got t-boned at an intersection while his young son was a passenger intensified a father's desire to compile a legacy-sealing discography.
"Each album that I've recorded since my daughter was born in 2014— Shine on Rainy Day, Providence Canyon, Keep 'Em on They Toes and now this one— has been inspired by my kids," Cobb explained. "I have a son now, as well. I've always kept in the back of my mind: 'If I were to leave this world, what would I want to leave behind to where my kids as they grew up they could sort of know who I was, what I thought about and what I believed in?'"
Cobb followed the leads of Johnny Cash, Alan Jackson, Carrie Underwood and others in the long lineage of country singers with gospel releases by recording standards that remind him of Sunday mornings, Sunday nights and Wednesday nights spent singing with the congregation.
"As the late, great Charlie Daniels said, 'I'm a faithful follower of Brother John Birch, and I belong to the Antioch Baptist Church'," Cobb said, quoting Daniels' song "Uneasy Rider." "No, it was a small, country church in Richland, Ga., Antioch Baptist. We had the old, classic piano in the corner that my aunt played. These are the songs that I grew up singing."
Out of the nine songs on the album, only "When It's My Time," a co-write by Cobb and his wife Layne, wasn't in Antioch Baptist's red-back hymnal.
"That one was inspired because of the wreck I was in as well as the pandemic," Cobb said of the timeless-sounding original. "We had this gathering around Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving every year. A lot of people come down, and my 85 or so year-old grandma always wants people to come stay at her house. She likes to get up and cook them biscuits and gravy in the morning and that sort of thing.
"My wife and I were talking about that in 2020," he continued. "We were like, 'Man, we don't want to put Grandma's health at risk. I don't think it's a good idea for folks to stay over at her house.' And then we got to thinking, 'Grandma, the good, Southern lady she is, she believes the good Lord's got her. When it's her time, she's going to go. It ain't up to her. It ain't up to us.' Then no one stayed at Grandma's house just in case, but we felt we had to write it."
Musically, the album reflects more than a sequestered singer with a heart full of gospel songs. Piano and organ accompaniment plus background vocals from Cobb's hometown friend Caylee Hammack fuel an upbeat camp meeting feel that reflects how church music in the Deep South shaped the roots and branches of Americana and other forms of popular music.
"When I say Southern gospel album, gospel just means the truth," Cobb explained. "When you're listening to an Otis Redding song or you're listening to an old George Jones song or if you're listening to a good Lynyrd Skynyrd song, that's all gospel, too. They're singing the truth. And all of that music with the organ and the piano. That's Philip Towns by the way on the organ and piano. That's all Southern music, so it's the Southern truth. It's the Southern gospel."
And Now, Let's Turn to Page... was produced by Brent's Grammy award-winning cousin Dave Cobb and recorded in Nashville at RCA Studio A.
And Now, Let's Turn to Page... Tracklist
- "Just a Closer Walk With Thee"
- "When It's My Time"
- "In the Garden"
- "Are You Washed in the Blood?"
- "Softly and Tenderly"
- "Old Rugged Cross"
- "We Shall Rise"
- "Old Country Church"
- "Blessed Be the Tie That Binds"
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