The title Providence Canyon suggests lush, pastoral vistas speckled with mountain dew gleaming in the sunrise. Brent Cobb delivers on that promise, at least on the title track to his second album, but he's too restless a spirit to remain in a mellow groove throughout the course of 11 songs. Which isn't to say Cobb lacks a light touch. One of the chief pleasures of Providence Canyon -- and it's an album with no shortage of pleasures -- is the easiness of Cobb's delivery. He never rushes a song, not when he lays into a thick, swampy groove, settles in for a slow tune, or evokes an outlaw country where all the cowboys would rather act as gentlemen instead of scoundrels. Cobb's versatility is camouflaged in part by his good humor, which makes all his explorations seem accidental, but some of this suppleness can be credited to his cousin Dave Cobb, a Nashville superstar producer whose signature is enhancing the essence of the artists he records. With Brent, Dave has a singer/songwriter who is sly and well versed in the history of country and funky Americana, and who places equal emphasis on the song and the performance. As a result, Providence Canyon is fleet on its feet but also substantial: it's a record that can be enjoyed as a vibe, as sharp musical interplay, and as a set of songs that are malleable yet enduring.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo