Chances are, even if you haven't heard Brent Cobb's voice, you've heard his songs. The distant cousin of Dave Cobb (producer of records for everyone from Waylon Jennings to Miranda Lambert) has written songs for country heavyweights like Luke Bryan and Little Big Town for the past ten years, but now he's breaking out on his own and releasing his first solo album, Shine on Rainy Day, a follow up to his 2012 self-titled EP.
"Everything is so perfect right now," he told me over the phone on Saturday, when I called to talk briefly about the album and the song we're premiering today, "Shine on Rainy Day." It's a soft, acoustic ballad, different from what you may have already heard from Cobb. The Georgia-born singer/songwriter has a knack for joyous, energetic songs that celebrate life and the good things in it.
Noisey: Tell me about your solo album! You've been doing songwriting in country music for a while now.
Brent Cobb: Yeah, it's the record I've wanted to make for ten years. Dave (Cobb) and I first got together about ten years earlier and made a record, my first album, and then I feel like the last few years I've been trying to get back to the two of us working together, and it finally worked out. He called when I was taking two years off from the road: I had just done four years of about 120 dates a year. I decided to take a break and Dave called me in the middle and told me about the Southern Family album he was working on. He wanted me to write something for that. So I wrote a song, and I wrote Miranda Lambert's song with her for that. While we were recording my song for it, it just felt so great we were like "All right, let's just do a record." So we did, and it turned into doing a deal with Atlantic Records which, I love Atlantic, I love Atlantic's history and what they represent for creatives. Everything feels great right now.
How long have you been writing these songs for the record?
I've been writing songs forever. For this record some of them are older than others, some of them i wrote during the recording process, some of them I've just had in my back pocket for a while. I write for other artists, and I never intentionally saved any for myself instead of pitching. They just happened to be some songs that no one else had recorded.
Are they more personal on this record than maybe the other songs you've written?
Most of the songs that I write are personal even if they get recorded by other people. We started to name this record "Georgia" just because I think Dave made his record too by making this album with me. It sounds so much like home to both of us that we started to name it "Georgia." It's definitely personal.
Why call it Shine on Rainy Day?
I wrote that with Andrew Combs. It was the first song we'd ever written together, and that song is really personal. I also had this good friend who went through a very difficult family tragedy with their child. Me and my friend got really close during this whole time. I played him that song—I sent him a Soundcloud link to it—and he loved that song because of what he and his wife were going through. It just seemed like that's what the name of the album should be. That's kind of what the whole album represents. Sometimes after a big storm when you get thunder and lighting, and it really cleans the air. The next day the sky is bluer. They were going through a real life rainy day, you know what I mean, that I can't even comprehend. I have a two year old, and I can't imagine that ever happening. They were going through a family tragedy, and that song really inspired them and in turn inspired me to name the album Shine on Rainy Day.
Where did the song come from?
It was just after being in LA for a while, being back in Georgia and moving to Nashville, trying to get a career off the ground, missing home. I wrote that whole first verse, and then Andrew Combs and I got together. He writes a lot by himself, and I write a lot by myself, and sometimes when you have two artists that write by themselves a lot it's hard to collaborate. I pulled out that verse I had along with the chords that I had, and he sort of added his two cents of his life to it, too, and it just became the song.
Who are some artists you looked to when you were writing this album, or just when you're writing in general?
During the album I was definitely listening to a lot of Merle Haggard. I went through a lot of my dad's songs: One of the songs on the record, "Country Bound" is a song my dad and uncle wrote. That's the first song I ever witnessed being wrote. I was five. We were in Cleveland, Ohio, for Christmas—my mom was from Cleveland—and I remember I witnessed my dad and uncle, my momma's brother, writing a song. That was the first time I ever saw snow, too. It's always been my favorite song, and I included that song on the record. A lot of their stuff really inspired me, and if I ever get in a hole and I feel like I can't come up with anything, I go back and listen to their old songs. And that always inspires something.
Shine on Rainy Day is out October 7 on Elektra Records.