Brent Cobb admits he’s a believer in the saying, “Nashville is a 10-year town.”
He can say that honestly.
Personally, Cobb’s life has seen a lot of change since then the August 2006 release of his debut album No Place Left to Leave. He is a family man now, living in Music City where he and his wife raise their 2-year-old daughter, Lyla.
“It has been the best two years of my life,” Cobb said. “I hadn’t cut my hair since before Lyla was born at all. I haven’t even trimmed it. I should do something with it.”
Some of his friends who struggled to make it on Music Row have come and gone. Some who stayed went on to turn the genre on its head, like Chris Stapleton who swept the 2015 CMA Awards following the release of his country debut Traveller.
On Friday (Oct. 7), Stapleton tweeted two words, “Buy this,” and included a link to purchase Cobb’s striking sophomore album Shine On Rainy Day.
Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A studio is now a part of the Cobb family history, as well. His cousin Dave Cobb is the new producer in residence at the studio, which was built by the legendary Chet Atkins, Owen Bradley and Harold Bradley. Some of the 2016 Southern Family compilation was recorded there — a musical event that ultimately inspired the two cousins to work together again on a full length album.
For our CMT.com interview, Cobb strummed the strings of a new Gibson Hummingbird guitar while kicking back on a couch in a backstage arcade room at Nashville’s Marathon Music Works. Later, he’s scheduled to open for Kip Moore, Cam and Tyler Farr with an acoustic set.
Professionally, Cobb’s brand of blue collar country has been quietly infiltrating the mainstream for the better part of the last decade. Written with Adam Hood and Jason Saenz, Cobb co-wrote “Grandpa’s Farm” — a song that has been recorded for at least three albums including Hood’s The Shape of Things, Frankie Ballard’s 2011 self-titled debut and David Nail’s The Sound of a Million Dreams.
He is also among the hit-makers behind Luke Bryan’s “Tailgate Blues,” Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t It,” Miranda Lambert’s “Old Sh!t,” Kellie Pickler’s “Rockaway (The Rocking Chair Song)” and Little Big Town’s “Stay All Night” and “Pavement Ends.”
In 2012, he released a self-titled EP and toured to support it. But it wasn’t until he reconnected with his cousin Dave for Shine On Rainy Day that he felt he’d made a collection that accurately captures his signature sound the way he heard it in his head for years.
“This record is sonically different, but it’s exactly the way I wanted it to sound for 10 years,” he said. “The whole goal was, we wanted everything to be live. If anything was overdubbed, we wanted it to have a purpose. We wanted all the instruments to have a purpose. So it’s very minimal. That’s the only difference in sound. It’s totally natural.”
Together, they created a collection that would make family back home in Ellaville, Georgia, and beyond proud. It is full of storybook songs about good old fashioned Southern visits, a love so strong that hell can’t defy, moonshiners who work undercover in pecan trees and a convict who wants the last laugh on an old crow cackling away on a fence post beyond his prison walls.
Cobb’s vocal performance throughout the collection is soft like Willie Nelson and grooves like Al Green. He sings of escapism in the rambling “Traveling Poor Boy,” whose late night driver gets lost in conversation with the lonely old man moon. The title track offers solid wisdom and observations. “Laughing ain’t a pleasure until you know about crying,” he sings. “Ain’t it funny how you learn to pray when your blue skies turn gray? When there’s nothing left to say?”
“I wanted to do a record,” he said, “that for whatever crazy reason if I died — hopefully that won’t happen — but I wanted to make a record that if that was the only thing that was left, Lyla would know me.”
When talk turned to what can happen in a decade in music, he said, “Every damn thing.”
“Everybody talks about the secret to success, and I still don’t know,” he admitted. “It seems like the secret is to not stop. I’ve had a handful of friends who have moved here to do music and they’re gone now. You know? Sticking it out is the hardest thing.”