Friday, June 25, 2010

Thad Cockrell - To Be Loved (Album Review)

When your father and two brothers are pastors, I’m sure there’s a bit of an expectation weighing on your career choices. For singer/songwriter Thad Cockrell though, sharing your story and experiences with God can be done from a Saturday night stage as much as from a Sunday morning pulpit. For his fourth release, To Be Loved, Thad sings about love, God, women and heartbreak over a beautiful, traditional country music backdrop. Before you cringe at the words “country music,” I’m talking about the good stuff here. Thad’s unmistakable voice fits perfectly within the acoustic guitar shuffles, banjo rolls and train line rhythm sections. Even some of the songs that have more modern instrumentation sound like golden oldies thanks to his delivery and the tone of his voice. In a perfect world, you’d be able to hear this album crackling out of a 1950’s transistor radio. Thankfully though, you can hear the next best thing since he released the album on vinyl. The warmth and richness of his voice is best experienced with the crackle and hiss of a record player joining in. Plus, the gorgeous album artwork looks like some of the best work to come out of Bob Ross’ “Joy of Painting” series.

To Be Loved is one of those records that is destined to be too secular for some folks and too religious for others. In reality though, it has a nice, real life balance between the vertically and horizontally directed songs. Songs like “Great Rejoicing,” “The Master’s Calling,” “He Set Me Free” and “Oh To Be Loved” have direct, uncluttered lyrics that could’ve been found in an old hymnal somewhere, while songs like “Beauty Has A Name,” “Rosalyn” and “Lock Up Sarah” deal with love and relationships. It all blends together seamlessly though, without ever feeling like Thad is having to “shift gears.” There are interconnected threads running through all of his lyrics, which leads to an overall cohesion instead of thematic loose ends. No matter the topic though, Thad doesn’t gussy anything up. The ugly aspects are given just as much light as the good ones. In fact, it’s hard to decide if it's his lyrics or his voice that shine the most. I’ve seen Thad in concert a few times and his voice is even more gripping in a live setting. Especially when it’s just him and his guitar. It’s guaranteed chill bumps. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “high lonesome” and wondered what it actually means, then just sit back, close your eyes and give the song “Oh To Be Loved” a spin.

You can find out more about Thad and order To Be Loved at

"Oh To Be Loved" - Thad Cockrell (To Be Loved)

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