Brent Cobb’s new album Southern Star is about absolutely nothing at all, and about everything all at once. It is both a simple work that doesn’t say much, and perhaps the most prophetic and deeply philosophical album that will be released all year. It’s message is both seriously profound, and yet so understated that you might miss it if you’re not paying attention.
How can this album be nothing and everything at once? It’s because it’s Brent Cobb doing his his level best to convey the laid back attitude that is at the heart of Southern living. This album is like a lazy afternoon on a back porch with a jar of tea, just watching life pass you by and loving every minute of it. It’s not that there aren’t things to do, or there isn’t a work ethic behind this laconic way of life. But it’s about making sure to slow down so the most important aspects of living don’t pass you by without being savored.
Brent Cobb has already been a major part of instilling the independent country music insurgency with a healthy shot of smooth, funky, and soulful attitude delivered with a Southern drawl. It’s a version of country that includes a lot of organ, and rounds the edges off of everything until it goes down easy like a good sipping whiskey or the whipped butter on a biscuit. Fellow songwriters like Adam Hood and Jason Eady have been releasing similar projects lately. But Southern Star might lean into this style more than any before.
Specifically “Southern Star” was a bar that Brent Cobb used to hang at with Jason “Rowdy” Cope, who was the guitar player for Jamey Johnson, and eventually a founding member of The Steel Woods. Cope was a mentor to Cobb before he passed away in 2021. But similar to how people tell you to pin your eye on a “Northern Star” as a compass point in life, Brent Cobb is aiming toward a Southern one to help reset your perspective.
A native of Georgia, Brent Cobb recorded Southern Star at Capricorn Sound Studios in Macon where The Marshall Tucker Band, Charlie Daniels, and many others recorded landmark albums as well. Cobb also used local musicians and personnel except for a few exceptions, including his co-producer and engineer Oran Thornton.
Though the lion’s share of this album isn’t about much more than not doing much and appreciating life, there are some exceptions. “Devil Ain’t Done” is a super greasy account of someone who isn’t exactly ready to give up his wayward ways, and instead leans into them. It’s hard to see this song being autobiographical to family man Brent Cobb, but it sure is fun and illustrates a certain Southern philosophy that some hold all their own.
Then there is “When Country Came Back To Town,” which is arguably the album’s crown jewel, and perhaps one of Cobb’s best songs to date (read review). It’s about how independent, artistically-minded country made its way back into the genre. It’s a great song itself, but the timing of it couldn’t be better as this music is really starting to reach its peak and replace corporate country at the top of the food chain.
As Brent Cobb explains, he’s been around to see most all of it, from Jamey Johnson recording “Can’t Cash My Checks,” to Sturgill Simpson recording his debut solo album High Top Mountain with his cousin Dave Cobb. Brent knows his place in the music world, and he also knows the place music fits in his world.
Brent Cobb is perfectly content being semi-famous, picking up opportunities when they present themselves like opening for big names such as Luke Combs and Chris Stapleton, and not allowing the important things in life to pass him by. What’s really great about Southern Star is it’s an extension of Brent Cobb’s own laid back personality, and a perfect album to decompress to.
1 3/4 Guns Up (8.1/10)
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