Brent Cobb was driving down a rural road with his son when another vehicle crashed into them. Cobb and his son were alright, but almost getting killed got Cobb thinking. The Georgia singer-songwriter had always meant to make a gospel album. That music was part of his family roots and cultural heritage. Now more than ever, Cobb felt thankful for the blessings he had received. There is nothing like a near-death experience that makes one find religion.
Or, more importantly, he felt the need for community, as we all live and die alone. And Now, Let’s Turn to Page… celebrates the ecclesiastical life with songs such as “Old Country Church” and “Are You Washed in the Blood”. Cobb selected eight classic old-time gospel favorites because these songs evoked his childhood experiences and stoked his desire to pray with others. Cobb seeks connection to others and God through song on this record.
That said, there would seem to be a limited audience for this album. The music is entirely gospel and, therefore, would be of most interest to believers. Songs like “The Old Rugged Cross” and “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” plod along slowly to show the depth of one’s spirituality. They might be inspiring for fellow travelers to sing along. One could easily harmonize with Cobb’s rough baritone vocals. But it’s unlikely that outsiders (non-Christian southerners) would want to join in with lyrics about Jesus and specific references to fundamental religious views.
The greatest secular pleasure can be found in the rousing “We Shall Rise” and Are You Washed in the Blood”. The songs feature rocking accompaniment [Brian Allen (bass), Mike Harris (guitar), Chris Powell (drums, percussion), and Philip Towns (keyboards] that contrasts with Cobb’s more earnest crooning. The results show that one doesn’t have to sing quietly to be sincere. The music gets a bit raucous but never too disruptive. There is still a sense of decorum in the proceedings.
The record was produced by Brent’s cousin Dave Cobb (Brandi Carlile, Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell), who generally keeps the music plain and unfussy. Vocals are delivered straight-forwardly, instrumental solos are kept to a minimum, and there’s a general sense of presenting things honestly in a documentary style. That fits the material which would most naturally be at home in a small-town church.
“When It’s My Time” is the one original song on the record, co-written by Brent, his wife, Layne Cobb, and Mike Harmeier of Mike and the Moonpies. The hymn-like melody comes right from the church pews. The lyrics promote the notion of living life to one’s fullest. There’s something generic about the whole message. Brent’s near-death experience should have taught him that when can never really prepare for what comes next.
The final track offers a more inspiring message, this one on the importance of family. The 49 second acapella version of “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds” walks the walk and talks the talk as it features Brent singing harmony with his wife, mother, sister, and father. To share music and love with one’s dear ones is a blessing. Hallelujah!