Brent Cobb’s third studio album, Providence Canyon, has a lot to offer its listeners across eleven tracks of earnest, Country rock-infused Americana. From the onset, the album feels earthy and visceral: Cobb’s vocals are strong and well-delivered, but also somewhat gritty, possessing that timeworn sense of character that only seems to come from years on tour. What’s more, Cobb’s Georgia drawl and down-home style of delivery matches the accompanying instrumentation quite well.
Songs such as “Mornin’s Gonna Come” feature cheeky, Southern guitar riffs (think Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd), driving drums, and bluesy bass. Other songs on the album, such as “Come Home Soon,” feature softer strummed acoustic guitars and gentle electric guitar riffs that play in counterpoint to Cobb’s impassioned vocals. We also get some nice upright piano keys in “If I Don’t See Ya” and subtle blues organ on records such as “.30-.06” and “Sucker for a Good Time.” Overall, the album ties together elements of Southern rock with blues and traditional country very effectively. Two of the strongest songs on the album, the title track “Providence Canyon” and “Lorene,” establish meditative atmospheres with their contemplative vocals and shimmering guitar sections. Listening to both of those songs, I couldn’t help but think of James Taylor’s work, specifically his 1970 album “Sweet Baby James” with records such as “Country Road” and “Anywhere Like Heaven.” Cobb’s voice is certainly gruffer than Taylor’s, but he seems capable of escaping into the same ponderous frame of mind for which we know and love Taylor. Another song that fits into this vein is “Come Home Soon,” my favorite song on the album.
While Providence Canyon has its share of pensive songs, Cobb also reveals his ability to channel Southern rock and blues on the album. In particular, the album appears to be influenced by the guitar handiwork of Dickey Betts and Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers. The Allman Brothers’ sound feels particularly influential on “Mornin’s Gonna Come,” and “When the Dust Settles,” records that feature irreverent, brash, bluesy guitar sections. I think Cobb could have gone a bit further on these records to take the songs deeper into the rock 'n' roll realm; he could have employed some heavier electric guitar and a more explosive guitar solo on “Mornin’s Gonna Come.” To give an example, “Ain’t a Road Too Long” fits into the same realm as the aforementioned records, but its heavy guitar solo really adds a sense of energy and spice to the song which the other two could have benefited from. However, it seems Cobb wanted to keep the focus of the album closer to home and prioritize his vocals, which we can certainly forgive him for, given his expertise in that department.
Overall, Providence Canyon has good variety and strong balance. The album provides heavier campfire anthems and cross-country road songs such as “.30-06” and “Ain’t a Road Too Long,” as well as softer, introspective records such as “Providence Canyon,” and “Come Home Soon.” As a cohesive work, Providence Canyon is focused and structured, while still offering moments of quiet reflection for the listener. Ultimately, it’s an album that’s worth exploring. Wherever your tastes fall on the spectrum of rock ‘n’ roll and country, you will undoubtedly find more than a few songs that pique your interest.
Written by Brennan White