Go Time Records (release date: April 2, 2021)
By Robert M. Marovich
Simplify is an apt title for Christian country singer Debbie Cochran’s latest offering. She delivers a breezy album of earnest originals in her no-nonsense vocal style.
Consciously or not, a thematic thread runs through the album that likens spirituality and the spiritual realm to elements of an idyllic rural America. “Just Like Old Times” for example, sees death as a journey to a “heavenly reunion,” complete with relatives sitting around the dinner table reminiscing about the good old days. “Blackberry Jam” is an evocative memory of farm life, including Sunday worship. “Cussin Holler” is a story of redemption that takes place in the country. Even the Rapture gets a pastoral treatment. To a galloping string band, “Are You Ready” asks when God is going to say “let’s go” and whether we will be prepared to leave.
The witty title track equates the process of seeking forgiveness to unplugging from technology and getting back in touch with nature. Similarly, “God is the Wind at My Back” declares that the troubles of the world can be left behind by trusting in Jesus. The melodic “Forgive” focuses on the simplest thing in the world: forgive your neighbor as ye have been forgiven by Jesus.
The plaintive “Kenny’s Song” is a ballad Cochran wrote about her late brother, a soldier who fought in Vietnam and struggled with the memories afterward. It’s a weeper as only country singers can write and deliver.
Debbie Cochran is accompanied on Simplify by a tight group of professional players who, in addition to the usual rhythm section accoutrements, add fiddle, mandolin, and steel guitar. She benefits from a reunion with Dolly Parton producer Kent Wells, who handles production (Dolly was featured vocalist on Debbie’s 2017 “Born Again Wildflower”). There’s mother wit a-plenty in this unpretentious Christian country collection.
Three of Five Stars
Picks: “Forgive,” “Kenny’s Song”