Schooled to be a minister but drawn to the melody and heartbreak of country music, Thad Cockrell possesses a sweet, soulful voice that brings out the emotion at the core of classic honky-tonk shuffles and cry-in-your-beer ballads. Though he rose from the same North Carolina alt-country scene that produced such acts as Whiskeytown and the Backsliders, he's coming at the music less from a rock background than from the classic countrypolitan sounds of Charlie Rich. Never is that more clear than on the piano-based closing track "Are You Still Missing Me," but that's just one of many highlights here; the heartbreaking "She Ain't No You," the more pop-oriented "Taking The View," and the poignantly nostalgic "Some Tears" all might have been country radio hits in a more hospitable era.
For a pure appreciation of Cockrell's vocal talent, check out "Why Go," on which he soars into Roy Orbison range, yet displays a sense of tasteful nuance that avoids the histrionics common to many of today's popular country vocalists. In only his second outing, Cockrell has proven to be one of the most promising artists contemporary country music has to offer.