Feature /// Brent Cobb’s Banner Year

To say that 2016 has been a pretty good year for Brent Cobb would almost certainly be an
understatement – it hasn’t just been “good” for Cobb, its been damn near perfect – the release of his absolutely exceptional LP, Shine On Rainy Day, a Grand Ole Opry debut alongside his father, and tour stops with everyone from Chris Stapleton to Anderson East.

A fruitful year for sure, Cobb’s success certainly wasn’t overnight – though some might be inclined to assume so – but it was wholly unexpected, even to Cobb himself. As is the case with most creative endeavors, there was a hope that Shine On Rainy Day would resonate with a select few, but Cobb admits that the universal acclaim for the record was as surprising as anything else the near-decade long veteran of Music Row had previously had a hand in.

“I didn’t expect as much of this as its already gotten. I hoped it would, but I knew [with it being] a personal album, a personal record, you could never know. I’ve always liked albums that go that way – more like reading someone’s personal story rather than mirroring my own – so I hoped that people would want to hear the same thing.”

And to say that the near instantaneous connection to Shine On Rainy Day from virtually anyone and everyone around Nashville and outside of it was alarming wouldn’t be out of the question, as Cobb puts it, the warm reception was “alarming in a great way.”

That being said, despite the forthcoming narrative of the record being such a prevalent focus amongst the bevy of admirers, there were moments when Cobb had deep concerns of whether or not Shine On Rainy Day would ever get cut, much less see the light of day. “I always tend to write for myself. I’ve been a songwriter on the road for a few years, and I’ve gotten a lot of pressure to write big hits, and I’ve never been real good at writing stuff that mirrored other people’s lives, or pandering to a crowd. So there were a couple of times over the years that it worried me like ‘Well, no one’s going to record these songs, so I hope that I get the chance to write these songs the right way.’”

Shaky standing of Shine On Rainy Day aside, Cobb soldiered on, continuing to work on songs that would eventually end up on the record, some from his time in back home in Georgia, others from touring on the road after cutting a couple tracks on his cousin Dave Cobb’s Southern Family“Down Home” and Miranda Lambert’s “Sweet By and Bye” – which also happened to be the first time the two Cobb cousins had recorded together in a decade.

16715970_1425135567538085_8208963720980874758_oFor those familiar with Dave, most would likely be surprised that when Brent came into town and ran the gauntlet that is Music Row, Brent was repeatedly posed the question of whether or not he was a singer-songwriter or an artist. Cobb never knew there was a difference between the two, and when the powers that be deemed him an artist, Cobb would go to bat for Dave to become his producer, “but no one knew Dave at the time, so they didn’t really listen to me [laughs].” So being a broke songwriter, Cobb was forced to abide by the desires of the powers that were, but with his cousin Dave becoming a powerhouse in his own right, the decade long reunion that was recording Southern Family brought on a new collaborative kick between the Cobb cousins – “Its just the way we got back together – it was perfect – because I was no longer jaded [laughs]. I was like ‘Yeah man, I’m ready to do a record. Let’s do one.’”

And as simple as that, Shine On Rainy Day came to be, Brent and Dave working together to bring about a personal sounding record that featured the sounds of Georgia through country ballads with a little more groove than whine, and plenty of grit without too much grind. In the end, the personal narrative was all in service of Brent’s upbringing in Georgia, but more importantly, what Cobb wanted most of all was for Shine On Rainy Day to do right by his daughter.

“I didn’t know what the reception of [the record] was going to be, but I did know that if it wasn’t going to be well accepted, I at least wanted it to be a record that for my two year old – if I never recorded another album again – she could listen and go ‘That’s who my daddy was, that’s who he is.’ So that’s what was in the back of my mind too when we were in the studio.”

Luckily for Cobb’s daughter, its probably safe to say that there will be more than a few opportunities that will follow Shine On Rainy Day for her to really gain the perspective of her father is at his core. In a round about way, it seems as though Shine On Rainy Day has managed to turn itself into a family affair for Cobb, as he recorded the record for his cousin, wrote it in service of his daughter, and because of the record’s success, allowed for Cobb to make his Grand Ole Opry debut alongside his father.

Despite having received earlier offers to lay the Opry, Cobb “didn’t want to be just another artist who’s playing the Grand Ole Opry just to play the Grand Ole Opry.” He made sure clarify that he sees nothing wrong with the bucket list approach to playing the Opry (because who wouldn’t in their right mind), just that he knew his personal Opry debut needed to carry a little more weight, though he worried the opportunity may have passed before Shine On Rainy Day. In the end, it happened, and Cobb got to do it his way, playing the first song he ever witnessed being wrote by his father, “Country Bound.”

2016 has most certainly been a banner year for Cobb, and it looks like 2017 is shaping up to do just the same, as he’s gearing up for a long run of tour stops in support of Shine On Rainy Day, with the ghost of Apache Relay serving as his backing band. While the record definitely has a languid country groove throughout, don’t expect the live sets to imitate the record, as Cobb and his band manage to throw the songs into an even more vibrant, lively groove than heard before. So even though Brent Cobb’s phenomenal year in music is coming to a close, the man from Ellaville, Georgia is poised for an even bigger year in 2017.

-Sean

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