Brent Cobb grew up singing classic hymns in church with his family, so the Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter always felt there was a gospel music album in his future. Then a July 2020 accident spurred the Georgia native to fulfill that heartfelt goal. The result is And Now, Let’s Turn to Page. . . The collection features Cobb’s refreshing take on eight beloved gospel standards and the poignant new song, “When It’s My Time,” penned with his wife, Layne, and friend Mike Harmeier.
“I hope that no matter what you believe that the way that these songs have lifted my spirit that they’ll lift yours, and if you just like music that you’ll just be able to put it on and you can rock out or contemplate or whatever you want to do,” Cobb says of the album, which released Jan. 28 on his own Ol’ Buddy Records. “I just hope that it feels like an old friend, and I hope it makes you feel like you just heard some good news, some gospel.”
The catalyst for the album came via a scary accident that crystallized his priorities and deepened his faith. “We were on our way to my folk’s house, and we were coming through this little rural four-way stop that I’ve come through my whole life,” Cobb tells SLN, recalling the day of the fateful wreck. “There are a lot of trees around the roads there and you kind of have to almost pull out in the middle of the intersection to really see if anything is coming. And you also have to have faith that if someone is coming, they will stop at the stop sign. I guess this car just happened to be in my blind spot because I did not see him, and we pulled out. They weren’t from the area, and they had no idea that this four-way stop existed. The car nailed us, t-boned us on my side.”
Cobb’s thoughts were immediately on his son Tuck who riding with him. “He was right behind my seat in his car seat. Luckily it was a rear-facing car seat at that time because he was only a year old. [The other car] went sort of under my truck and my truck turned onto its side across the road and he went out into the field. He and his girlfriend had just bought a brand-new puppy and that’s what they were doing in the area. They weren’t from there. I remember opening my son’s door. Luckily my truck turned back onto its tires when we hit the ditch. I got out of the truck and I opened my son’s door. He looked up at me. He wasn’t crying, but he looked up at me like, ‘What in the world just happened?’ and then he reached for me. He was sort of moving around and I could tell that he was probably okay, but I didn’t want to move him just in case.”
Cobb himself had sustained a broken collarbone in the accident. “I just sort of kneeled down and called my wife to let her know where I was and what had happened,” he says. “Then I called my mom. We were right down the road from their house. I just waited there and waited for people to show up and took it as easy as I could. Tuck was completely unscathed and not hurt at all. All I did was break the collarbone and the other people were okay too. With something like that you start thinking about how intricate everything is sort of placed and just how perfectly timed everything was for that wreck to happen.”
Cobb says there are a couple things that inspired him to go ahead and record the gospel album. “It occurred to me that I may not have another chance,” he says, “and as we were cleaning out my truck, my wife and I were getting everything out because the truck was totaled. The first thing we found was this necklace portion of this rosary that this priest had gifted me in the middle of the desert, Tempa, Arizona in 2017. I was on tour with Jamey Johnson and Margo Price and this priest came up to me and said, ‘Brent, you don’t know me but my name is Father Andrew. I hand make these homemade rosaries and I don’t ever know who they are for until God tells me and this one is for you.’ And he gives me this rosary.
“Well the first piece of anything that we clean out of the truck is that necklace, that rosary and when we get to the end of cleaning my truck out, the very last thing we find was the cross,” he continues. “It was under my seat, between my seat and my son’s seat. It’s not random. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence and so I already had it in my mind and then of course we were going through this pandemic and those songs are so sacred to me just from how I grew up in the church that they uplifted my spirits with the pandemic and the wreck and the whole world. I just thought it was time to make this album.”
Cobb enlisted his cousin Dave Cobb (known for his work with the Oak Ridge Boys, Brandi Carlile, Anderson East and Chris Stapleton) to produce the album. “Those are sort of the Southern Baptist Greatest Hits,” he says of the songs he recorded. “My dad leads the singing at church and my grandpa did it before he took it over, so I called him and said, ‘Here’s what I’ve got so far. What am I missing that we do more than others?’ Also I hit up my sister and asked her, so they helped in choosing those songs.”
The album includes “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” “In the Garden,” “Softly and Tenderly,” “Old Rugged Cross” and a high-octane Southern rock flavored version “Are You Washed in the Blood?” “When It’s My Time” is the album’s lone new track and sounds like an instant classic that fits comfortably alongside the iconic hymns. He recently released an intriguing video to accompany the song.
“Dave and I were taking a break one day in the studio and I just started reciting the words to ‘When It’s My Time,’ and I was excited about it,” he recalls. “Dave said, ‘Ah, that sounds like a gospel song. We should put that on this album,’ and so that’s what we did.”
The inspiration for the song struck on a quiet evening after he and his wife had put their children to bed. “We have a 7-year-old and a 2-year-old and when we put them to bed, we have that 3-hour window of time that we can kind of hang out with each other. We can hang later, but they’re going to get up the same time every morning, so it might hurt if we hang out any later than that,” he says with a laugh. “So, a lot of times we’ll just go sit out on the porch and we’ll write. My wife is way smarter than I am. She’s got great taste in music and just good instincts when it comes to writing, so we were sitting out there one of those evenings and that song really fell out of the sky. . . We wrote it pretty quickly and I sent what we had over to my buddy Mike from Mike and the Moonpies. He and his crew had just lost a member and I knew he was kind of going through it and maybe that would help him. I knew he could relate, so he wrote a couple verses to add to what we had, and I used one of those as the last verse of that and that’s how ‘When It’s My Time’ came to be.”
Cobb enlisted family to sing on the final track “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds,” including his wife Layne, his mother Renee, his sister Alecia, his father Patrick and his cousin Dave. “At the end of each church service at our church, that’s the song that we close out with,” Cobb shares. “We all gather around the church, hold hands and we sing that a cappella together before we close the service. So, it was the natural choice to end the album with that song a cappella that way with my family. The day we did that though it was kind of crazy because this time of year last year in Nashville, the ice storm had hit, and we were the only people probably on Music Row that were working. I had my daughter running around the studio and we just did it just like we do at church.”
In addition to family, the album also features appearances by Anderson East, guitarist Mike Harris, bassist Brian Allen, and members of Antioch, a Georgia-based gospel group led by Cobb’s father. He also recruited fellow Ellaville, GA native Caylee Hammack to sing on the album. “We are both from the same exact town,” he says. “I’ve been watching Caylee since she was 12 years old singing. Her daddy would give my daddy little demos to give to me. This was already sort of a family project and Caylee might as well be family. She’s wonderful and she was available that day, thank goodness, and that’s how it happened.”
When asked if it was intimidating to try and put his own unique stamp on these well-known classics, Cobb responds, “It might have been the easiest singing on anything I’ve ever experienced. I don’t know if it’s because I was singing for something other than for myself or what, but it really came super easy and very natural because I have grown up with those songs. It’s a southern gospel album, not just a gospel album.”
Cobb is looking forward to sharing these songs on his “When It’s My Time Tour.” “I wanted to make an album it doesn’t matter what you believe,” the affable entertainer says. “If you like music, I think you’ll like this album, and it will be the same way with this tour. We’re going to do the album front to back and then we’re going to do all the songs that I play from other albums and it’s going to be fun. I think it will be the funnest tour I’ve ever had.”