If in Case You Feel the Same

Thad Cockrell

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If in Case You Feel the Same Review

by Mark Deming

You can only go on baring your soul in the same way for so long, especially when it seems very few people are paying attention. That was the dilemma that was dogging Thad Cockrell after he released 2009's To Be Loved, an album rooted in country and folk influences in which the songwriter once again offered his audience a deep look into his search for love and grace. Like his previous albums, it was praised by critics and his cult following and ignored by practically everyone else. When Cockrell was next heard from, it was in a very different context, as part of the dance-pop act Leagues. Eleven years after To Be Loved, Cockrell has returned to the spotlight as a solo artist with 2020's If in Case You Feel the Same, an album where he fuses the lyrical sensibility of his solo work with a far more contemporary and accessible sound. You can't dance quite as readily to If in Case You Feel the Same as you can to Leagues' music, but on most tracks, the arrangements are still founded in electronics and percussion loops that give the album a distinct pop sheen, still soulful but far easier for folks with a taste for lovelorn contemporary pop vocalists to embrace. And even more organic numbers like "Slow and Steady" have an unashamedly big, bold production style that punches up the drums and guitars to arena-suitable levels. The fans who embraced To Be Loved or 2003's Warmth and Beauty will probably be taken aback by the more expansive sound of If in Case You Feel the Same, but love and understanding are still the touchstones that guide his songs; the production is significantly different, but the message should sound familiar, and the need for compassion, both human and divine, is expressed with an eloquent insistence that's as powerful as anything he's ever recorded. Musically, If in Case You Feel the Same is the sound of Thad Cockrell boldly reinventing himself, even as he remains true to the beliefs that have driven him as a songwriter from the very beginning, and the craft he's put into this music is thoughtful and impressive, even as it takes him into unfamiliar territory.

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