REVIEW: Brent Cobb’s “Keep ‘Em On They Toes” is Simple Country Wisdom


Familiar melodies and folksy wisdom populate Brent Cobb’s Keep ‘Em On They Toes. Produced by Brad Cook and available from Cobb’s own Ol Buddy Records via Thirty Tigers. Keep ‘Em On They Toes finds Cobb plucking with an easy confidence.
“If you ever grow up, one thing you’ll find, most people that you meet, are just about out their mind, they try to tell you how to live, they try to tell you how to die, they tell you don’t get to low, but don’t get too high, best thing you can do, is don’t listen too close, walk on to your own beat, keep them on they toes,” sings Cobb as he lays the foundational philosophy for the record, “walk on to your own beat.” Acoustic guitar and expressive organ provide a place for the message to flow.

A similar attitude populates “Shut Up and Sing” while bass provides a Waylon-like back beat as Cobb contemplates pouring his societal criticism into song to avoid the in-between song commentary that can get a rise out of certain live audiences. A fiddle solo mirrors the anger over the shut-up-and-sing audience member or the vigor with which Cobb wishes his polite southern-ness would let him spit.

More world weary wisdom follows on “Good Times and Good Love,” they “don’t last forever.” “You make the good times even better, so let’s get together and make some good love last all night,” Cobb continues as he tries to hold on to the good times and good lovin’ while they last. “This Side of the River” takes a twist on the grass is greener approach to Cobb’s favorite fishing spot as a day of fishing becomes the impotence for a contemplative moment. “Even the catfish think chicken liver is a better bite on this side of the river, but I’ve never seen this over flowing stream from the other side, over there is could be nice,” Cobb sings.

“Dust Under the Rug” continues to build upon Cobb’s simple country wisdom as he addresses interpersonal issues and establishes his own boundaries to negativity over a bouncy up tempo number highlighted by a ragged but right arrangement highlighting the fun and looseness of a late night picking session as he sings, “Don’t sweep you dust under your rug, don’t hang your laundry on my line, don’t drag my name through your mud…if the shoe don’t fit don’t wear it.” Country boogie woogie piano pulses as Cobb sings, “Talk is cheap and common sense ain’t commonly found,” on “Soap Box” while he duets with Loretta Lynn’s sonic descendant Vicky Emerson. Cobb and Emerson continue, “you might wear out my nerves, but you ain’t changing my mind, by good god let’s hop off the soap box and get along.”

“When You Go” slows down the overall pace of the album with a dark blues plodding tune that declares, “we all sink if the ship goes down, but you know can’t take when you go.” Keep ‘Em On They Toes closes with “Little Stuff” and Cobb offering some final down home wisdom, “keep you light lit, a tight grip, on all the good folks that you love, let the rain go, chase the rainbow, there’s a lot of truth in all that little stuff.” For Cobb all the little stuff is enough and he thinks it should be for you too.

Out October 2nd, Brent Cobb’s Keep ‘Em On They Toes will keep your toes tapping while soothing your worry and woe with some good times – enjoy ‘em while they last.

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