Produced by his cousin, the great Dave Cobb, Brent says the record was inspired by his upbringing in Ellaville, Georgia, and plenty of Sunday mornings spent at church.
He posted a photo of the text messages with Dave that got the whole project started, saying that it was something they wanted to do for their family, but also people who may need a little encouragement, regardless of what they believe in:
“These songs have uplifted my spirit throughout my whole life. They still do today.
Doesn’t matter to me what anyone does or doesn’t believe in, if the only belief one has is in music, I believe this album will uplift the listener’s spirit as well.”
He also told NPR that one time in Sunday School, he was asked to sing a song of his choosing, but his teacher didn’t specify that it should be a hymn…
And he went with a tune that’s probably more suitable for a honky tonk jukebox than church:
“One of the first songs I ever sang was in Sunday School, and it was ‘There’s a Tear in My Beer’ by Hank Williams, Sr. My mom was probably not the proudest.”
We’ve all been there before, right?
With plenty of classic hymns on the tracklist like “Are You Washed In The Blood,” “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” and “Softly and Tenderly,” the old school southern feel brings me back to my childhood growing up in a small town church with a similar experience to his.
But, the one song that struck me the most upon my first few spins is Brent’s rendition of “Old Rugged Cross.” It’s always been one of my Sunday favorites, and the stripped-down production, choir-like background vocals, and touches of organ just transport you back and hit you right in the heart.
As if the title in an of itself isn’t enough to do that, which Brent says was inspired by his memories of singing in church and the choir leader instructing the congregation on which song they should turn to in the hymnal book:
“In the mornings, when you’re going through the hymnal book, the person who’s leading the singing will go, all right; and now let’s turn to page – and, you know – 457 and do ‘The Old Country Church’ – you know? – or whatever it is.
So I don’t know. I thought it was fitting for that but also because of, let’s turn a chapter in this page of life – you know, where we are in the world right now.”
“The Old Rugged Cross” was originally written by George Bennard in 1912, but the hymn was popularized by Ernest Tubb when he included it as the title track to his 1952 gospel record.
The entire album truly is spectacular, and this one will just about bring a tear to your eye because it’s so pure and beautiful. You’ll feel every bit of his faith that came from singing in that little church in Ellaville on this track.