Nashville is full of talented yet underrated songwriters who never quite make it as solo artists of their own. Thankfully, artists like Chris Stapleton have managed to break through those barricades recently, making way for a new generation of "unconventional" country artists. Brent Cobb doesn't fit into the mold of today's country top 40, but that's more of a compliment than a criticism.
With his debut album, Shine On Rainy Day, Cobb introduces himself as both a poet and an everyman. Much like his hero Kris Kristofferson, he manages to immerse the listener into a moment in time with each lyric. The 30-year-old is a native of rural Georgia, and the influence of his Southern raising is weaved through nearly every note and line. Thanks to the help of his cousin and acclaimed producer Dave Cobb, Brent transports the listener from a front porch in the swamplands to the cold concrete of a prison cell.
Although the gritty, swampy vibe of the record helps set the scene, the lyrics stand as the true star of the show. It's incredibly difficult to make a casual conversation translate into a meaningful and engaging piece of art. However, that's a feat that Cobb has been excelling at for years. There's a reason why artists like Luke Bryan and David Nail were wise enough to cut his tunes. No cliches or predictable themes pop up on this record. Instead, he focuses on meaningful snapshots and narratives that we've all told ourselves at one point.
For instance, his track "Solving Problems" sounds like a conversation you'd overhear while waiting for your whiskey at a Nashville bar off Music Row. The longing for the comforts of small town life fill the hopeful "Country Bound," while the wistful reflection of "Black Crow" will make you ponder those chances you wish you'd taken - or wish you could take back.
In "The World," Cobb lingers on the feeling of contentment and joy that comes with being in love. On a different note, the dark and foreboding "Let the Rain Come Down" really shows off the brilliance of the Cobb clan. Brent's powerful, angst-ridden vocals mix with the ever-building accompaniment before building to a climax that will make you turn the dial all the way up to 10.
As someone who grew up in a small town and moved to Nashville to make things happen, Shine On Rainy Day in many ways feels like the soundtrack to my life. Anyone who has grown up in a rural town, or just experienced country life in general, will find something to connect to in this record.
2016 has supplied a wealth of big albums from big names like Dierks Bentley, Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood. Brent Cobb's debut supplies more heart, honesty and depth than nearly any other release so far this year. Don't sleep on this record, or you'll be missing out on some of the finest songwriting in country music today.