Drop a sharpened needle into the bracing grooves of a Brent Cobb record.
Life as he knows it pops and crackles forth in nuanced tones and shaded hues of a Southerner in the midst of an absorbing narrative.
Easy? No. Worthwhile? Unquestionably. Check out Brent Cobb on Thursday, Sept. 12, during the 70th Annual Washington County Fair at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Abingdon, Virginia. Listen to him. He lays waste to convention in favor of the real and the revelatory.
“Every song I write is autobiographical,” said Cobb by phone last week from a tour stop in Huntsville, Alabama. “For whatever reason, writing music from my perspective was always about that.”
In that regard, Cobb’s somewhere between Hank Williams and the Allman Brothers. He peels it back to expose his deepest inner self — demons and all.
“Man, if you put me between Hank Williams and the Allman Brothers, I’m alright with that,” Cobb said. “The way that the good music comes out of me is to tap into what I see and who I am.”
Spend a weekend with Cobb’s latest album, “Providence Canyon.” Journey into Georgia’s Providence Canyon State Park on the title track. Step into the red Georgia clay, feel the humid air, blend among the wide open Georgia wild.
“Then that song did its job,” Cobb said. “When Willie Nelson sings about Texas, he takes you there. When Mark Twain wrote, he took you to the Mississippi. I was just wanting to get back home. I’ve been all over this country, but there’s something about Georgia that is magical.”
Like a cobbler in mama’s kitchen, Cobb’s Southern roots bear unmistakable imprints on his music. Like his roots, he’s real. Pretense amounts to but a hidden word in the dictionary in his world.
“I try to pay homage to the Georgia music that came before me,” Cobb said. “My dad loved Otis Redding and The Four Tops. One of my favorite songs is ‘Patches.’ Now that’s a country-soul song if there ever was one. I’m for rural America. There’s redemption down there. I like to capture that on tape.”
Hear Cobb sing. He’s a windows-down ’68 Chevy truck. No airs, no need. Hear it rattle, and yet it rolls, making rhythmic time along dusty Georgian back roads with definable deep-seated soul. Perfect? No. But he’s memorable.
“Sometimes it takes a little longer, but I like to come across naturally,” he said. “Historically, that’s what got a lot of music heard. That’s what turned the Beatles onto Lead Belly and Led Zeppelin to Robert Johnson. Authenticity will never die.”
That’s taken Cobb to places he never imagined he’d lay eyes on. He wrote about that in “Come Home Soon” from “Providence Canyon.” He sings as his heart pulses in three-quarter homesick time when he sings the line: “Never thought I’d be so far from Georgia.”
“Oh, man, yes sir,” Cobb said. “The funny thing about that particular song, I wrote it in 2011, right after I was on Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown Tour. Man, I was missing home something terrible. It was my first major tour. I just wanted to get home.”
Yet the more he sings, the farther he travels from home. So goes the fodder for more songs, deeper explorations into his being, and perhaps more of that which has made Cobb a zenith on America’s music scene.
“I plan to get back into the studio this winter to record my next album,” Cobb said. “The songs are more about my thoughts and feelings.”
Meanwhile, he takes to the highway in search of another crowd in another town on another trip away from home. Funny thing, though. With every song he sings, home isn’t so far away after all.
“I’ll be doing it as long as I can,” Cobb said. “It ain’t so bad. I think I’ll stay awhile.”