Warmth & Beauty
So you like the music of Ryan Adams but can’t stand his thin-skinned egotistical bullshit and general obnoxiousness? Think of Thad Cockrell as sort of a more down-to-earth Adams. Vocally he’s almost a dead ringer for Adams, and he has even collaborated with Adams’s former Whiskeytown bandmate Caitlin Cary. Plus ex-dB Chris Stamey (who produced Cary’s solo records) mans the board here. Got all that?
But Cockrell is nowhere near as big a showoff as Adams. As a result, Warmth & Beauty is a record of humble country shuffles. First off though, Cockrell shows us a harmonica-inflected energetic rocker with the terrific “I’d Rather Have You.” The title track appropriately has plenty of atmosphere and a soulful vocal.
Occasionally, Cockrell comes up with a nice turn of phrase as well. On the clever “What’s the Use,” he sings: “I gave my feet a talking to / I told ’em not to walk me back to you / Now look just what they’ve done / Didn’t walk they made me run.” Then on the self-deprecating “I Was So Lonesome,” he offers, “I was just a passing cloud / When you deserved the sun.”
Even when the lyrics are nothing special, the songs have a great feel. “Breaking of a Day” is perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon with the placement of the instruments executed to perfection. And “My Favorite Memory” is sweet and earnest, and owes a debt to Gram Parsons.
There are perhaps a few too many melancholy ballads here, but those seeking a talented country singer-songwriter to root for without all the baggage could do a lot worse than Thad Cockrell.