For real | Music Feature | Indy Week
Pin It

For real 

Warmth & Beauty lives up to its name

At least one wag has defined Americana as "country music that doesn't suck," and that fits Thad Cockrell rather well. In fact, Cockrell, as he demonstrates on his new release, Warmth & Beauty, makes original country music that is pretty damn good. Unlike what's playing on country music radio, Cockrell remembers how to use pedal steel guitars and fiddles and write lyrics that are more substantial than plays on popular catch phrases. Like many of his Americana brethren, he's a throwback to the days when folks like Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, Haggard, and Waylon Jennings honed honky-tonk into a medium for singer-songwriters. "Why Go?," for example, is classic '50s country, while "Some Tears" finds a place somewhere near Jackson Browne at his peak. "Some tears you want to keep. Others you don't want at all. Some tears you want to keep. Others, they're bound to fall."

Cockrell fills Warmth & Beauty with the variety of sounds he finds within honky-tonk and the Bakersfield shuffle. "Breaking of a Day" could fit right in on Neil Young's Tonight's the Night or On the Beach. Mel Street would have been proud to have written and sung "My Favorite Memory." The title cut reminds you of Ricky Skaggs 20 years ago singing a great Guy Clark song. A hidden cut, which appears as track 21, apparently called "Misery Feeling Again," finds Thad channeling Buck Owens at his best. But on "What's The Use," he uses the Bakersfield beat to sound just like Thad Cockrell. His tenor voice delivers that happy song delightfully, yet it can power the rocking, Long Ryders-like opening song, "I'd Rather Have You," then just as naturally, he can make his voice nearly weepy as Webb Pierce on "Why Go?" On the bass and guitar driven country rocker, "Taking the View," and the wistful, tear-jerker "Are You Missing Me," he's in that place again where Thad sounds like no one but himself as he does on "Was So Lonesome" and "She Ain't No You." As he continues to grow as an artist he's bound to find that totally original sweet spot more and more frequently.

Cockrell's lyrics are straightforward with simple phrases employed to great effect, as with the chorus of the down-but-not-out "Breaking of a Day." I'm holding on, I'm holding on," he sings. "Won't you hold on too? Just a little longer." On "She Ain't No You," the singer addresses a former lover with all the fine attributes of his current girlfriend, "but the truth of the matter, she ain't no you."

Cockrell, who lives in Durham but is contemplating a move to Nashville, composed or co-wrote all eleven songs. Producer Chris Stamey arranged the strings and added some instrumental touches. Stamey does an excellent job of allowing Cockrell's sound to flourish with a good live feel to it and no distractions. Despite an abundance of slow-to-medium tempo pieces, Warmth & Beauty flows well and consistently engages the listener. Cockrell's core band in the studio included area veterans Aaron Oliva, John Teer and Jen Gunderman, The Carbines' Greg Reading and Zeke Hutchins and additional vocal and instrumental support from such notables as Tift Merritt, Caitlin Cary, Bob Carlin and Mitch Easter.

Warmth & Beauty proves a thoroughly engaging, enjoyable and thoughtful album worth repeated listening. Thad Cockrell demonstrates that he has become a formidable singer and writer capable of striking originality while remaining closely in touch with his roots. EndBlock

More by Art Menius


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Music Feature

Twitter Activity


There's an error in your thinkpiece - it states that Janet Weiss had a short-lived stint as the drummer for …

by SashaTNC on Can Pavement's Stephen Malkmus Hold His Own Against His Former Band's Ever-Expanding Legacy? (Music Feature)

Most Recent Comments

There's an error in your thinkpiece - it states that Janet Weiss had a short-lived stint as the drummer for …

by SashaTNC on Can Pavement's Stephen Malkmus Hold His Own Against His Former Band's Ever-Expanding Legacy? (Music Feature)

Marilyn Manson is lunkheaded? Ok, fuck this guy. He would never EVER in a trillion years would make something as …

by вава ывыв on The revamped image and resuscitated band and brand of Trent Reznor (Music Feature)

Really? That's how you see the choice? A splintered table full of mud and barbed wire or a lovely table …

by etsisk on Find Your Own Life Philosophy in a Pair of Big-Name Country Gigs This Weekend (Music Feature)

Yeah Vitale, it's not like it's possible to book a full day festival focusing on local female artists that only …

by spencer on Moogfest 2018: Can a Music Festival Help Us Unlearn White Patriarchy? (Music Feature)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation