By the end of the last decade, Brent Cobb’s career finally seemed to be cruising. After a stretch in Nashville writing songs that were recorded by Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney and Miranda Lambert, he stepped out as a solo artist in earnest with 2016’s “Shine on Rainy Day,” which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Americana Album. Two critically hailed additional albums, “Providence Canyon” and “Keep ‘Em on They Toes” followed relatively quickly, and Cobb—a conversational country lyricist who matches his laidback demeanor with an old-school outlaw sound—became a featured act playing amphitheaters on Chris Stapleton’s All-American Road Show.
But then came 2020, and Cobb, like all musicians, found himself unable to tour. That summer, back home in his native Georgia while the world hunkered down, Cobb was driving with his young son when his car was t-boned at a rural four-way stop. Although both he and his boy were unharmed, Cobb was shaken by the violent accident, and after a period of reflection he decided to pursue a long-held idea to revisit his family’s roots and make a gospel record. The result is “And Now, Let’s Turn to Page…,” an effort that offers spiritual hymns through Cobb’s preferred stylistic leanings: country, soul and rowdy roots rock.
“You just start piecing together how everything is sort of intentional…I’d always had it in the back of my mind to make a gospel album,” Cobb said in a statement on his new effort, which was released back in January. “That moment of clarity, of almost getting killed, made me think I should just make the gospel album now.”
Cobb made his latest effort at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A with help from his cousin, renowned producer Dave Cobb. Family history influenced what he chose to record, as Cobb picked songs he learned attending Georgia’s Antioch Baptist Church, where his father and grandfather both led singing congregations.
Cobb was joined in the studio by his parents, wife and sister, as he rebooted familiar church songs, including “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” and “We Shall Rise,” which peaks with a rousing vocal chorus and some greasy, blues-based guitar squalls. He also sings with country upstart Caylee Hammack on “Old Rugged Cross,” which is delivered as a stark acoustic ballad that evokes Johnny Cash’s gospel output.
Eight of the nine tracks on the new effort are longstanding hymns, but Cobb wrote the album’s one original, “When It’s My Time,” with his wife. It’s a poignant meditation on mortality that features comforting piano chords and a message about accepting every human’s fate.
“I know what matters to me and what I think I should focus on for my own life, but it might be different for somebody else,” Cobb stated. “I don’t know a whole lot about anything, but I know that it matters to me to incorporate the way that it all makes me feel, and to try to translate that to other people. And that’s what all of this is – my family, gospel music, and the church. All of it.”
Cover photo by Alysse Gafkjen