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Thad Cockrell (with Caitlin Cary)

WARMTH AND BEAUTY (YepRoc) • Thad Cockrell

Gorgeous, touching, inspiring. From the first measure, you hear the unmistakable sound of the pure and uncompromised spirit of an artist who just wants to sing what's in his heart. And it rocks you right down to your soul.

I was in several publishing companies on Music Row yesterday, and on the walls of each one were photos of guys that just made me want to throw up. They all looked like they were from The Young and the Restless, trying hard to look misunderstood. I got out of there as fast as I could.

Cut to the other side of the world. Back in the car, I put on Warmth and Beauty to underline the difference between Country music and the country music business. The voice of Thad Cockrell touches me inside in a place that I need to go, and can't always find my way back to by myself. What a gift to give someone you don’t even know, to make music that helps them get back to that place.

I saw Thad perform a couple of times in the course of the recent Americana Conference in Nashville. He's a big cat, looks right off the farm. On stage, he’s movin like a rocker, in the spirit. He grew up in a very Southern Baptist family, his dad and two brothers are all preachers. He didn't begin playing music until he was at seminary in NC, and started hitting some coffee houses. He fell in with great NC pickers and got local wizard Chris Stamey to produce Stack of Dreams in 2000. Stamey was on board this year as co-producer and put down tracks on his many instruments. He's got a great band on the disc that includes Jen Gunderman on keys, currently with Caitlin Cary and a former Jayhawks member. When the vibrato on her Wurlitzer moves in time with the swell of the pedal steel and Thad's vibrato is resonating on top, you gotta sit down or hold on to something.

This is a hurting record, and it's peaceful, too. "Putting the hurt back into Country," that's actually the man's motto. Harp Magazine picked this as one of their Top 40 discs this year, and CMT.com picked it as the top Indie release. This is real, old school country, just the way we like it. Very highly recommended. • FG

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