Brent Cobb writes from the heart

A rising young country singer and a songwriter whose songs have been recorded by Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, Kellie Pickler and the Eli Young Band, Brent Cobb can’t write from anything but the heart.

Many Nashville songwriters are skilled tunesmiths and lyricists who craft great songs that are pure fiction. While Cobb admits that’s a legitimate way to write songs, it’s not the way he wants to do it.

“I feel dirty if I try to do that, like I’m tricking somebody,” he said from the touring trail in Texas. “If I didn’t live it and I didn’t feel it, it’s not my story to tell.”

So far, songwriting has brought Cobb his greatest success.

“It’s grown tremendously,” he said. “I can’t believe how much recognition I have as a songwriter now.”

Cobb’s winning writing streak began in 2009 when the Oak Ridge Boys recorded his composition, “Hold Me Closely.”

“Yeah, it’s always awesome to hear my songs recorded,” he said.

Cobb later heard things in Little Big Town’s rendition of “Pavement Ends” that he’d never dreamed were there. The album’s producer, Jay Joyce, previously produced rock band Cage the Elephant’s hit, “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked.”

“I’m a big fan of that sound,” Cobb said of Joyce’s Cage the Elephant work. “So it blew my mind when I heard Little Big Town do ‘Pavement Ends.’ Definitely there’s something in their version that we didn’t hear or capture when we recorded it.”

Country star Bryan played a big part in persuading Cobb to pursue music. Early on, Cobb’s band, Mile Marker 5, opened a few shows for Bryan. Both singers have growing up in small Georgia communities in common. Cobb comes from the southwest corner of the state, near Ellaville, population, 1,600.

Cobb was hesitant to make the leap from small-town Georgia to Music City. Years before, his talented musician father opted not to take his Nashville shot.

“In my mind my dad didn’t do it because he didn’t want to leave his family,” Cobb said. “And I always wanted a family. I thought, ‘Well, if I call these people and I try to progress in music, then I’m not going to have a family.’ ”

But Bryan persisted.

“Luke called again and was like, ‘You got to come to Nashville.’ So I did.”

Cobb stayed at Bryan’s house for a week while his friend introduced him to the Nashville music machine.

“He took me everywhere,” Cobb said.

Following Bryan’s encouragement, Cobb recorded his album debut, No Place Left to Leave, in 2006. His latest release, a self-titled EP, arrived in September. Now, after some years of paying his dues, he’s more optimistic than ever about his future in music.

“I’m doing the artist thing and touring every weekend,” he said. “I’m exactly where I’d like to be. It’s funny, because two years ago, when I first started playing every weekend, I was doing a lot of solo things. I was going, ‘Man, I can’t wait until I can have a band out here.’

“Now I can finally afford to have a full band and rent a van. I can’t wait till we get on a big tour. It’s just a gradual build and, hopefully, before you know it, you’re where you’d wished you would be.”