ROUTES & BRANCHES
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
September 10, 2106
In this, the year of uber producer Dave Cobb, it's appropriate that one of his most worthy offerings comes from a project completed with a cousin, Brent Cobb. Fact is, the two only became acquainted as adults, reportedly meeting at an aunt's funeral. Dave has heralded the resulting record, Shine On Rainy Day, as deeply fulfilling, "... everything I wanted to say". Like Caleb Caudle's release from early this year, or Andrew Combs' 2015 highwater mark, Brent Cobb's fulfilling new collection is a musical revelation.
“South of Atlanta” is a loveletter to a small South Georgia town, to a way of life that still exists (but mostly in our childhood memory). The music Cobb lays down is as warm and familiar as the small town people he celebrates. “Lord when I die, let’s make a deal / Lay me down in that town where time stands still”. It’s a wide open sound, where electric and acoustic share the space with the singer’s charmingly lazy drawl.
It’s good natured music, too, like the self-deprecating working class romp “Diggin’ Holes”. Atop a perfect 70s Nashville groove, Cobb apologizes for his shortcomings, “I oughta make my living in a graveyard / Lord knows I’m good at diggin’ holes”.
The best music brings to mind friends on a porch, not suits in a studio. “Solving Problems” paints a picture about buddies shootin’ the shit on a Sunday afternoon. Silence is broken by meandering conversation touching on marrying well, “Mama Tried” by Merle, buying a jeep and “mak(ing) it through next week”. At just under the 3-minute wire, it checks all the necessary boxes. It’s Roger Miller-meets-John Hartford with just the right shade of soul. It’s as laid back and sneakily literate as early John Prine (the mailman, not the folkstar).
A handful of songs on Shine On, especially “Black Crow” and “Let the Rain Come Down”, recall the humid bluesy rock of Tony Joe White. There’s an overcast darkness and threat to the songs as the music leaves the front porch and wanders a bit along muddy creeks and shadowy hollers.
“Shine OnRainy Day” eavesdrops on Cobb and an acoustic, his voice filling the small room. The title cut is the gentlest moment on the record, but resonates with such a genuine Southern sweetness and melancholy soul: “Ain’t it funny how a little thunder / Make a man start to wonder / Should he swim or just go under / And ain’t it funny how you learn to pray / When your blue skies turn grey / When there’s nothing left to say …”
- Seth Walker, "Way Past Midnight" Gotta Get Back (Royal Potato Family, 16) D
- Jesse Dayton, "Holy Ghost Rock n' Roller" The Revealer (Blue Elan, 16)
- Southern Culture on the Skids, "Dirt Road" Electric Pinecones (Kudzu, 16)
- Sara Rachele & the Skintights, "Ain't No Train" Motel Fire (Angrygal, 16)
- North Mississippi Allstars, "Jumpercable Blues" Keys to the Kingdom (Songs of the South, 11)
- Dex Romweber, "I Don't Know" Carrboro (Bloodshot, 16)
- Katy Goodman & Greta Morgan, "Over the Edge" Take It It's Yours (Polyvinyl, 16)
- Drive-by Truckers, "Filthy & Fried (edit)" American Band (ATO, 16)
- M Lockwood Porter, "American Dream Denied" How to Dream Again (Black Mesa, 16) D
- Jack Ingram, "Old Motel" Midnight Motel (Rounder, 16)
- Kasey Chambers, "Ain't No Little Girl" Ain't No Little Girl EP (Chambers, 16) D
- Angel Olsen, "Shut Up Kiss Me" My Woman (Jagjaguwar, 16)
- Dexateens, "Teenage Hallelujah" Teenage Hallelujah (Cornelius Chapel, 16)
- Reckless Kelly, "Moment In the Sun" Sunset Motel (No Big Deal, 16)
- Eilen Jewell, "Home to Me" Queen of the Minor Key (Signature Sounds, 11)
- John Calvin Abney, "Weekly Rate Palace" Far Cries and Close Calls (Horton, 16)
- James McMurtry, "Screen Door" Highway Prayer: Tribute to Adam Carroll (Eight 30, 16)
- Amanda Shires, "Slippin'" My Piece of Land (Shires, 16)
- Tim Easton, "Right Before Your Own Eyes" American Fork (Last Chance, 16)
- Massy Ferguson, "Santa Fe" Run It Right Into the Wall (Proper, 16)
- Cody Jinks, "Give All You Can" I'm Not the Devil (Jinks, 16)
- Kelsey Waldon, "All By Myself" I've Got a Way (Monkey's Eyebrow, 16)
- Deadstring Brothers, "Talkin' Born Blues" Starving Winter Report (Bloodshot, 05)
- Coal Men, "The Singer (in Louisville)" Pushed to the Side (Vaskaleedez, 16)
^ Brent Cobb, "Diggin' Holes" Shine On Rainy Day (Elektra, 16)
- Paul Cauthen, "I'll Be the One" My Gospel (Lightning Rod, 16)
- Zoe Muth, "Hard Luck Love" Zoe Muth & the Lost High Rollers (Muth, 09)
- Wilco, "Quarters" Schmilco (Nonesuch, 16) D
So, problem with these Spotify playlists (other than the fact that you gotta subscribe to the service) is that not everything I play is available yet. This makes for an incomplete listening experience, though it's still a bunch of good stuff.