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Warmth & Beauty

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Album Review

Thad Cockrell's first album was tossed off in a single session, but this sophomore follow-up was recorded at a more deliberate pace and is thus far better produced and executed. There is a less rushed quality to these country-folk tunes, helped immensely by Cockrell's lovely, lazy tenor voice. Singing somewhat like a young Loudon Wainwright III, this is pure country music, untainted by commercial considerations and without rock influences. There's more than a hint of Gram Parsons here as well, and much of this album would sound just fine next to the first few Flying Burrito Brothers discs. In fact, "My Favorite Memory," with its aching melody and slight R&B underpinnings, seems like it's written with Parsons in mind. There's also a dab of Dwight Yoakam, especially in the Bakersfield twang of "What's the Use." Kudos especially to producer Chris Stamey, whose light touch spotlights Cockrell's voice prominently in the mix, exactly where it should be, and supports it with weepy pedal steel (from Tift Merritt's Greg Reading) and honky tonk piano (courtesy of ex-Jayhawk Jen Gunderman) that is dramatic but not overwhelming. The album is front-loaded with its best and most upbeat songs, leaving the final 15 minutes to drag slightly in comparison. But Warmth & Beauty perfectly describes this charming and moving contemporary country release. It's a triumph forThad Cockrell, who shows himself to be an artist who revels in the past but puts his distinctive spin on music that is moving and obviously heartfelt.


Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

North Carolina-native Thad Cockrell, known for his themes of heartbreak (his self-professed goal is to put "the hurt back in country"), released his debut album, Stack of Dreams, in 2001 with backing group the Starlite Country Band. The son of a Baptist minister, Thad grew up primarily in Tampa, FL. His family was not musical; in fact, he wasn't allowed to listen to rock & roll and didn't even own a stereo until well into adulthood. Despite a burgeoning music career, religion remained an important...
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Warmth & Beauty, Thad Cockrell
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