Thad Cockrell playing in Nashville in 2003.
|Genres||Alt Country, gospel, alternative rock|
|Associated acts||Caitlin Cary, Leagues|
Thad Aaron Cockrell is an American singer-songwriter. He has released three solo albums, along with a collaborative album with Caitlin Cary. Cockrell, who often writes emotional songs, is frequently associated with his goal to "put the hurt back in country".
Cockrell, the son of a Baptist pastor, grew up mostly in Tampa, Florida. His father was the pastor of an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church, and president of Cockrell's school. While in school, Cockrell discovered his love of country music and rock n' roll, which was forbidden in his home. Cockrell cites bands such as The Everly Brothers, The Cure, and Nelson as early influences.
After high school Cockrell went on to graduate from Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. He then studied at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. It was there that Cockrell would begin writing songs.
Cockrell recorded his first album Stack of Dreams with Chris Stamey of The dB's. It was recorded in one day as a demo. Cockrell liked it so much, he began selling it at his shows as an EP. Eventually the recording was re-mixed and given another track for the album's release on Yep Roc Records in 2001. Cockrell's friends and former Whiskeytown members Caitlin Cary and Skillet Gilmore played on the album. AllMusic gives a favorable review of Cockrell's debut, describing his voice as "the kind of high, lonesome warble that can raise the hair on your neck and put a tear in your eye", and the album as "striking a nice balance between not-so-rowdy honky tonk and heart-worn balladry".
In 2003 Cockrell again worked with producer Stamey for his second release Warmth and Beauty. CMT.com picked the album as a top independent release. Allmusic proclaimed that the album is "pure country music, untainted by commercial considerations and without rock influences". Cary and Tift Merritt lent harmony vocals on the song "Why Go".
Cockrell again collaborated with Cary for the 2005 duet album Begonias. A review in the Washington Post praises the album for conveying the complexities of marriage, writing that it is "as good a traditional country album as we're likely to hear this year". Alternative country magazine No Depression praises Cockrell's lyrics as "straightforward simplicity", and also compliments the singing on the album as "intimate, immediate and intentionally under-rehearsed to capture an edge of freshness".
After the three Yep Roc releases Cockrell moved to Nashville to focus on songwriting for financial reasons. He wrote and co-wrote songs for Lost Highway artist Donovan Frankenreiter and Universal Records artist Courtney Jaye. Cockrell continued to perform in Nashville. According to collaborator and Roman Candle's leader Skip Matheny, Cockrell was "more popular than ever". However, reflecting a desire to "write less and find a community where he could be more than a musician", Cockrell left Nashville to return to North Carolina.
On October 13, 2009 Cockrell's first solo album in six years, To Be Loved, was released. It is described as "a collection that mixed lush, brooding melodicism and rustic, folk-y shuffles". Cockrell commented that it is "more me than any previous release". Independent Weekly says it is "a conflict-driven mix of love songs for Jesus and women. It laces gospel and country influences into gentle, loping tunes". It was recorded in Nashville with producer Jason Lehning, who has also worked with Alison Krauss.
Cockrell is the only child amongst three sons not to become a pastor. While Cockrell has many songs reflecting his faith, it has been noted that Cockrell's overall body of work doesn't consistently contain these themes. He has commented that he has "lost fans for his religious convictions and alienated some Christians with songs that aren't always about God". An extensive Cockrell feature in Independent Weekly concludes that "archetypal conflict—secular pleasures and aims versus Christian tenets and rules—has powered Cockrell's songwriting".
|2001||Stack of Dreams||Yep Roc Records|
|2003||Warmth and Beauty||Yep Roc Records|
|2005||Begonias (with Caitlin Cary)||Yep Roc Records|
|2009||To Be Loved||Major 7 Music|
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- Currin, Grayson (November 26, 2008). "Thad Cockrell returns from Nashville, finally ready to mix his music and his faith". Independent Weekly. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
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- Gilstrap, Andrew. "Mindy Smith: My Holiday". Popmatters. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
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