Album Review – Brent Cobb’s ‘Shine On Rainy Day’

brent-cobb-shine-on-rainy-day

I remember the first time I heard Brent Cobb sing and I didn’t even know it was Cobb himself. He sang backup on Canadian country artist Lucette’s debut album Black Is The Color. The song in particular where he stood out the most to me was on “Poor Sweet Me.” Lucette informed me that Cobb was not only the background singer harmonizing with her, but the co-writer of the song. Ever since then Cobb has been an artist on my radar and almost every time he pops up he has impressed me. Earlier this year he was part of the excellent Dave Cobb-produced album Southern Family, shining on the song “Down Home.” He made an appearance on Whiskey Myers’ new album MUD where he also shined. So after years of turning in great guest performances on various albums, we finally get to hear an entire album just from him. His debut album Shine On Rainy Day has been out and getting raving approval from many in the country community. Well you can add my name to the list because I instantly enjoyed this album.

The thing that immediately stands out about this whole album is it’s production and instrumentation. This isn’t much of a shocker of course because Brent’s uncle Dave is producing this and anything Dave Cobb seems to touch turns to gold. The guy just has a knack for finding that perfect sound for artists he produces. The perfect sound for Brent Cobb of course is that southern rock, soul sound infused with traditional country. One song in particular that really highlights this fusion of sounds is “Diggin’ Holes.” It’s a twangy, Muscle Shoals-inspired sound that really has a lot of warmth and the guitar work on it is something that will stick with you. The same can be said of “Let The Rain Come Down,” especially on the song’s outro.

Cobb really does a great job of capturing the rural spirit on this album, especially on songs like “Traveling Poor Boy” and “Country Bound.” On the latter if you close your eyes and just focus on the song, you’ll picture that countryside the song paints in your head with its lyrics. Then the cherry on top at the end with the guitar work really makes this one of the best songs on the album. “Solving Problems” welcomes you into the album like a long lost, old friend you’ve reunited with and “South of Atlanta” sets the scene of a small town setting where everyone is like family and all of the sights and sounds come together to create the ideal place to live.

One of the songs on the album that didn’t really stand out to me at first, but later grew on me was “The World.” There’s a subtle flawlessness about it that really grabs you with more listens and it’s the type of song people that shows just how great of an artist Cobb is and his potential ahead of him. Another highlight of this album is its title track. The song is about embracing a bad day/moment/feeling. It’s really a song that perfectly explains why I love country music and that’s how it doesn’t run from embracing the horribleness of the world. It’s embracing reality and how not everything is always happy and the only way you can grow and learn is from those terrible moments. It’s cathartic to take lessons from your lowest moments. “Black Crow” closes out the album and it was a song that intrigued me with it’s gritty, darker sound. I think it’s something I would to like to hear Cobb explore more on his next album, as I think he could pull off this type of songs well. It’s sort of an outlier to the rest of the album in terms of sound, while thematically it still sticks with rural living and heartbreak.

Overall I think Shine On Rainy Day is a pretty solid debut album from Brent Cobb. The relatable themes to the everyday person and the easily accessible sound will win him a lot of fans. It will not only win him over indie country fans, but also I think southern rock and Americana fans can appreciate it. If you’re someone who’s always enjoyed Dave Cobb-produced albums, you’ll certainly enjoy this release too (even if you’ve never heard Brent’s work before). Cobb reinforces with this album why I’ve kept my eye on him because his talent and artistry is quite high. Shine On Rainy Day is the beginning of what I believe is the start of a bright and fruitful career for Brent Cobb.

Grade: 8/10

 

Recommend? – Yes

Album Highlights: The World, Country Bound, Shine On Rainy Day

Bad Songs: None

Wallpaper: Traveling Poor Boy, Down in the Gulley


Stream The Entire Album Below:

Album Review – Chris Stapleton’s ‘Traveller’ Is Fantastic Debut

Chris Stapleton Traveller

For years Chris Stapleton has been penning hits for some of the biggest and brightest names in Nashville. There’s no doubt he’s a talented songwriter, even though there are a couple of projects he’s been a part of that were not so good in my mind. Still the anticipation has been building for years for Stapleton to release his very own album. When he announced earlier this year that it’s finally arrived, I was one of the many excited to hear it. Then I found out Dave Cobb would be producing it and I knew it would be a must listen, as everything Cobb touches is phenomenal (Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, Jamey Johnson, Lucette, Rival Sons). These two great talents coming together on Traveller set my expectations high without a doubt. So I eagerly jumped into this highly anticipated album. And boy does it deliver big.

The album begins with the lead single and album title track, “Traveller.” Not only is it a great single choice, but also starts the album off quite well. The song is about the rambling man who loves to travel from place to place without a clue where he wants to go next. The bluesy and traditional production makes this song immensely likable and Stapleton’s voice is perfectly suited for the song. The next track, “Fire Away,” is an emotional heartbreak ballad. Stapleton’s voice absolutely blows me away on this song. Not only does he show great range, but great emotion too. The instrumentation arrangement fits the story of the song well, especially the lingering steel guitar in the background.

Stapleton slows it down with “Tennessee Whiskey,” a smooth love ballad. One of the greatest artists of all-time, George Jones recorded this song originally and I think The Possum is smiling down on Stapleton’s cover. It tells the story of man who had an alcohol problem until the love of his life came along and saved him. He compares her to the sweetness of strawberry wine and the warmth of brandy. Stapleton has a ton of charisma to pull off a sultry, slow song like this one. “Parachute” is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Stapleton combines country and rock to produce a catchy song that makes you want to move your feet. The songwriting is good too, as it describes how a man will always be there for his woman, her parachute as he says. This song is simple, but it works brilliantly.

You should recognize the next song, “Whiskey and You,” as Tim McGraw originally recorded it on his Let It Go album in the early 2000s. Jason Eady also recorded this song on his 2014 album Daylight & Dark. I can say with confidence out of the three, Stapleton’s recording is the best. It’s not just because he wrote the song too. It’s the fact that Stapleton delivers the emotion of this song so much better than those two. He does this by stripping this song down completely and only using an acoustic guitar for instrumentation, allowing his voice to tell the story of the song. It’s raw and grips your attention from start to finish. Stapleton absolutely nails this song. The more up beat “Nobody To Blame” follows. It’s about a man who just broke up with his woman and she’s angry as hell at him. So she’s proceeded to destroy all of his stuff, which the man takes full responsibility for because he admits it was his fault. How refreshing is it to hear this in a song? It’s quite the opposite of a song like “Redneck Crazy.” Again I’m impressed by Stapleton’s vocals and the harmonica interludes throughout the song give it an extra edge to make it stand out.

The mandolin plays in (and throughout) “More of You,” a sweet love song that I’m sure will be popular in country dance halls and wedding receptions. Stapleton sings with his wife Morgane Stapleton, who has a beautiful voice of her own. To me it adds another layer of sentimentality to a song that’s already a fantastic love song. Everything about this song works together so damn well. “When The Stars Come Out” is a dreamy tune about heading out west to Los Angeles to chase dreams. It’s about how you look up at the stars and wonder if you’ll ever reach your goals. The songwriting is a little lighter on this than the rest of the album, but the pedal steel guitar and piano lurking throughout more than make up for it.

Just like “Whiskey and You,” “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore” is a stripped down and emotional song. It’s about a man realizing his dad no longer prays anymore and paints the picture that his dad has given up hope. Halfway through the song when he’s not getting along with his dad, when he lays down at night he hears his dad praying for him. He realizes his dad does care, but by the end of the song his dad has died and realizes he’s finally walking with the Lord. I don’t think I can properly explain how great this song is and I suggest you listen for yourself. Tell me again why it took so long for an album from Stapleton? The rollicking “Might As Well Get Stoned” shifts the mood to uncaring resignation. The man in the song is alone and is out of whiskey, so he says screw it and gets stoned. The heavy steel guitar licks and Stapleton’s passionate cry in the bridge is the climax of the song and really grabs the listener’s attention. The majority of songs about getting stoned are dumb and completely pointless, but this is an exception. I like to think of this as a drinking song with the drinks being replaced with weed. And the man in the song is clearly smoking out of being despair, not joy. Stapleton put a fresh spin on a theme that is overwrought with clichés.

“Was It 26” feels like a perfect follow-up to “Might As Well Get Stoned.” The Charlie Daniels Band originally recorded the song and this is only one of two songs on the album that Stapleton didn’t help write. It’s about a man reflecting back on his wild year when he was 25 or 26. He can’t decide which year because they blend together in his mind. He doesn’t seem to regret it, but he would also like another crack at that age (whatever which one it is). It comes off as a warning to younger listeners and perhaps relatable for older listeners. Regardless it tells a great story. Oh and Stapleton’s voice is amazing once again. Stapleton sings about the crushing reality of being a musician traveling on the road all of the time in “The Devil Named Music.” He’s sometime drunk, stoned and most of all he feels alone. He misses his daughter and wife dearly, but he knows the devil that is music has his life. That’s one of the things we never think about as fans when listening to our favorite music. The amount of blood, sweat and tears that goes into making such great music is huge.

“Outlaw State of Mind” puts you in a…well outlaw state of mind. From the bellow of the guitar to the vocals it frames the theme of the song well. The harmonica solo in the bridge is fantastic too. Really this was song to show off the instrumentation that graces the album throughout, something I can certainly appreciate. The final song on Traveller is “Sometimes I Cry,” a song I could easily imagine being played in a smoky barroom in New Orleans. It’s a heartbreak song where Stapleton just lets it all hang out. He sings his ass off and the guitar play is equally impressive. Oh and this was recorded live in front of an audience. I mean what else can I say? This is another great track amongst many throughout this album.

The hype was high heading into Chris Stapleton’s album. Not only did he meet the hype, he surpassed it with Traveller. I don’t think I could ask anymore from a country album than what I hear on this album. It has everything a country music fan should want in their music. What impressed me the most out of all is Stapleton’s voice. Holy shit I did not expect him to blow me away so much vocally. He’s easily one of the best in country music today. The songwriting is top-notch, but we knew that already. The instrumentation and production is spotless, as once again Dave Cobb is in top form. I have no complaints with this album, as Stapleton is a visionary. Traveller is a must-own and is easily one of the top candidates for Country Perspective’s 2015 Album of the Year.

Grade: 10/10

 

Country Perspective’s Best Country Albums of 2014

We have reached the end of 2014 and over the course of the year we’ve reviewed a lot of great country music. So in case you just found the site or don’t remember all of the great country albums we’ve reviewed, you’re in luck. Here are the links to every album we rated an 8/10 or higher over the course of the year. These are the albums we give a solid recommendation or more for you to listen to. Keep in mind this site started in May, so we won’t have every single great album. For example we never got around to reviewing Dierks Bentley’s album or Don Williams’ album, two albums that would have definitely made this list. So if there are albums missing that you love, they were most likely not reviewed. Others of course may have not been rated high enough to make it. I’m also including our album of the year candidates in case you missed those too. One more thing: only albums are included, no EPs. So without further ado here are Country Perspective’s most recommended albums of 2014.

10/10 (Album of the Year Candidates)

Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music 

Shovels & Rope – Swimmin’ Time 

Karen Jonas – Oklahoma Lottery 

Lucette – Black Is The Color 

Tami Neilson – Dynamite! 

Sunny Sweeney – Provoked 

First Aid Kit – Stay Gold 

Old Crow Medicine Show – Remedy 

The Secret Sisters – Put Your Needle Down 

9.5/10

Angaleena Presley – American Middle Class 

Micky & The Motorcars – Hearts From Above 

Stoney LaRue – Aviator 

9/10

Wade Bowen – Wade Bowen 

Matt Woods – With Love From Brushy Mountain 

Lee Ann Womack – The Way I’m Livin’ 

BlackHawk – Brothers of the Southland 

The Roys – The View 

Jason Eady – Daylight & Dark 

Mack McKenzie – One Last, One More 

Bonnie Montgomery – Bonnie Montgomery 

8.5/10

Jon Pardi – Write You A Song 

Ray Scott – Ray Scott 

Mary Sarah – Bridges 

The Buffalo Ruckus – The Buffalo Ruckus 

Rich O’Toole – Jaded 

Corb Lund – Counterfeit Blues 

8/10

Eric Paslay – Eric Paslay 

Phillip Fox Band – Heartland 

Terri Clark – Some Songs 

Country Perspective’s 2014 Female Artist of Year Winner

This past year was another strong year for female artists. You wouldn’t know it if you turned on award shows, country radio, or looked at the charts, but female artists who made country music this year made some quality music; some of the best. There were many good selections for our nominees; many great albums and great performances that these women stood upon in 2014. Josh and I spent a good amount of time thinking and debating with ourselves over who to choose. We felt there were four or five women who could conceivably win this award with all fairness and votes from readers were across board. With all that said, your 2014 Country Perspective Female Artist of the Year is a tie! Your co-winners are Lee Ann Womack and Karen Jonas!

Now six of our seven nominees had fantastic album releases this year. All those albums were top-tier country albums that impressed both Josh and I. However, Karen Jonas’ Oklahoma Lottery is simply a damn good debut album.  As Josh said, “When it comes to Oklahoma Lottery though, I just can’t find anything wrong. I mean if you’re really nitpicking you could say it’s too raw at times, but I think the rawness adds another layer to the album. Really it enhances it and makes the more emotional songs stand out. I find it very hard for anyone who likes traditional country music to not like this album.” The thing is, Karen accomplishes this on her own. She brought the band together and got them in the studio to record. She spearheaded the production of Oklahoma Lottery. Karen Jonas didn’t have connections like Lucette with Dave Cobb or Angaleena Presley; she wasn’t already established like Tami Neilson or Sunny Sweeney. Karen Jonas put in the blood, sweat, and tears to create an album that stands up next to the best of the mainstream and established artists. For that, Karen Jonas must be recognized for the quality outcome from her hard work.

Let’s be frank here: Karen Jonas’ dark, witty vocal delivery on the album is brilliant, and her song writing is fantastic.

 

Lee Ann Womack also had a hell of year. The Way I’m Livin’ has captured critic’s ears across the board. This album from Womack came six years after her previous release, and Womack’s first release from an independent label. Lee Ann Womack cut some great songs from Nashville songwriters and released an album from her roots and made a grand return to country music. The biggest news for Lee Ann this year, and a big reason for us awarding her alongside Karen Jonas, is that The Way I’m Livin’ received a Grammy nomination for Best Country Album. Gaining a nomination for one of music’s most prestigious awards is fantastic and certainly well deserved for Lee Ann Womack.

 

However, Womack’s return to the country spotlight has brought out some great TV appearances and performances. She and Jamey Johnson sang George Strait’s “Give It Away” at the George Strait All Star Concert in honor of his retirement. And back at the CMT awards in June, Lee Ann Womack and Kacey Musgraves honored Alan Jackson by singing his hit, “Livin’ On Love,” before Jackson accepted the Impact Award. The rendition was the show’s top moment, and one of country music’s best moments this year. Jackson himself complimented the performance saying he’d never heard the song sound more beautiful.

Both Karen Jonas and Lee Ann Womack stood out the most in a year where women stood out in country music. It’s a shame that the Nashville machine and the mainstream circuit ignores these women. You could argue that these females are some of country’s most talented artists. We at Country Perspective don’t ignore these female artists, we praise them and enjoy their music. Thankfully, these women are determined to make their music in their own way, and they don’t let anything stand in the way of making it happen. Karen Jonas and Lee Ann Womack are a glimpse of what talent and drive are capable of achieving. While they certainly aren’t the only ones who do that, in 2014, these two stood out among the crowd with great albums and have both earned Country Perspective’s (co-)Female Artist of the Year award.

Country Perspective’s Best Female Country Artist of 2014 Nominees

As 2014 comes to a close, Country Perspective will be handing out a number of awards to the artists, songs, and albums we covered over the year. We’ll be crowning the best of the best and the worst of the worst. Very much like last year, this year featured some great album releases from female artists that brought some of the best country music in 2014. Some of these women had strong debut albums, others added to an already strong catalog, and all are a wonderful representation of country music. Regardless of their respective stories, these seven women are making some of the best country music today, and their work this year is worthy of being nominated for Country Perspective’s Best Female Country Artist of the Year.

Awards will be handed out in mid-late December. Josh and I will deliberate and reach the final decisions together, but we will also take reader input into consideration. So if you have a strong opinion about an artist listed here feel free to comment below and let us know. Who knows, you may sway the vote! In going over nominees this year, we believe that this particular category is a tough to award because, quite frankly, these women all have a reasonable case to be crowned as Country Perspective’s top female artist.

  • Sunny Sweeney – Sunny’s third album, Provoked, was met with critical acclaim. The album was a great collection of honest, personal songs, most of which Sunny co-wrote. She delivers these songs with passion and emotions that add to each song’s story. Provoked also featured several song of the year worthy tracks, one of which can be found on our list of Song of the Year. In my opinion, Sunny has the perfect blend of classic and contemporary country sounds, and the consistency of her music, in both sound and quality cannot be overlooked.

Lee Ann Womack – Fans waited and waited for Womack’s next album and were finally treated to The Way I’m Livin’ this year. Another album that was not only met with critical acclaim, but also received a Grammy nomination for Country Album of the Year. Her song, “When I Come Around” is also featured on our list for Song of the Year. And who could forget Womack’s beautiful tribute to Alan Jackson at the 2014 CMT Awards? Alongside Kacey Musgraves, the Texas women sang Jackson’s “Livin’ on Love” in honor of his Impact Award. Country music certainly missed Lee Ann Womack and she made a roaring return this year.

  • Kacey Musgraves – Kacey’s sole official release this year was her single “The Trailer Song”, but she had a huge presence and impact around the award show grounds over the year. Kacey Musgraves is doing everything in her power to bring the roots of country music back to the spotlight. Her duet at CMT Awards with Lee Ann Womack was without a doubt a big moment from this year. At the 2014 CMA Awards, Musgraves not only had a great performance with the one and only Loretta Lynn, but Musgraves’ hit single, “Follow Your Arrow”, was awarded Song of the Year. “Do you guys realize what this means for country music?!” Musgraves exclaimed in her acceptance speech. Kacey Musgraves may just be the most important artist in the mainstream light right now.

Angaleena Presley – Angaleena Presley got her start as a songwriter, penning numerous songs on country trio The Pistol Annies’ first two albums. Presley released her first solo debut album, American Middle Class, this year, and it did not disappoint. Simple, honest songs about the hardships and struggles of small town America. Presley is a gifted songwriter whose stories represent the history of how country music was built.

 

  • Lucette – This Canadian country singer has what I personally consider the most impressive debut album of 2014. Black is The Color is a chilling, brilliant collection of songs with great writing and vocals. Dave Cobb’s production on this album is phenomenal, and Lucette’s “River Rising” is a Song of the Year candidate. Some select dates of Lucette’s tour this year also features Sturgill Simpson. Basically, Lucette is surrounding herself with the right people, and she certainly has a bright musical future.

Karen Jonas – Yet another impressive debut album. A dark collection of classic country and blues, Karen Jonas’ Oklahoma Lottery is downright amazing. Great songwriting, fantastic instrumentation, and Jonas’ voice is haunting. This is another singer who I’m excited to see develop and grow in the country music world. You’ll find the title track from the album on our Song of the Year list, and rightfully so. Karen Jonas jumped onto the scene this year and made quite the impact.

 

  • Tami Neilson – This New Zealand country star is in one word, spectaculaTami Neilson Album Coverr. Tami’s sound is straight out of the 1950s, and her new album, Dynamite!is a great showcase of what Tami Neilson is capable of: great vocals that carry each song and perfectly convey the emotions appropriate for the subject matter. Her albums have been critically acclaimed and awarded several times in New Zealand, and it’s hard to imagine that Dynamite! won’t fare differently. Tami Neilson is an absolute gem to listen to.

Please share your thoughts and help us decide who to crown as Country Perspective’s Best Female Country Artist of 2014. This category is full of worthy candidates who all deserve to be recognized for their accomplishments this year. Your comments and votes will certainly be helpful in determining the outcome of this award. If you haven’t already, check out the rest of our nominations for our awards: best male singer, best duo or group, best and worst albums, and best and worst songs of 2014.