Curtis Gaines III shares the emotional an analytical vision behind Songs From The Ashes. An hour length album rich in influences and stories.
Minnesota native, known only as Cobi, released his album, "Songs From the Ashes," this past November. Cobi combines classic blues guitar with contemporary soul, gospel, R&B, and rock elements. The 15 track album revolves around a relationship with a toxic woman (or women) that he knows is not good for him but pursues anyway.
Reflecting on topics like breakups, infidelity, and emotional trauma, In the end, he is left with heartbreak, having to pick up the pieces on his own.
Starting the album on a mellow note with Fool's Gold, Cobi's lonely guitar strums echo his pain from the hopelessness of lost love.
It is a feeling that he is familiar with, paralleling his childhood with his love life, with expectations turning into loneliness in the end.
The climax of the mysterious-sounding song comes during the Purple Rain-inspired electric guitar solo, echoing Cobi's inner turmoil.
Almost like a flashback, Queen of the Damned, featuring singer and trumpeter La Doña, has Cobi conflicted about pursuing a woman he knows is not good for him. The Latin-inspired surfer-sounding track is smooth as Cobi's vocals pierce through it during the chorus.
Having settled with a woman named Marie in You're Mine, Cobi's nightlife takes a toll on the couple's relationship. Although he pleads for her to stay and wants it to end, they both know that they still want each other. Cobi's soulful vocals are one of the strongest on the album. It goes great with the composition of sharp percussion and John Mayer-inspired sound.
The following three tracks, "Everything You Need," "Skin Deep," and "Eavesdropping," each show Cobi's range as a musical artist. "EYN" is a piano and handclap-oriented gospel track where Cobi feels undervalued by his lover. Starting with acoustic guitar and a few boom baps, the instrumental in "Skin Deep" switches to a romantic, dreamy sounding R&B song during the chorus. "Eavesdropping," a song about jealousy, combines contemporary snares with a Hendrix-inspired guitar riff during the chorus.
Cobi's skills as a musician are highlighted when he resorts to his go-to sound, the blues.
When the reality of losing his lover sets in during "Better Days," he remains optimistic as a choir joins him towards the end with the message of "taking it all with a smile." After listening to the other blues track, "Operator," the listener has no other choice but to feel like a badass.
Like a late night drive on an empty road, the blues-driven track has Cobi belting out his frustrations of feeling betrayed by his lover. Bringing a lot of bravadoes and a guitar solo that drags you through a string of various emotions represents the anger and frustration that Cobi feels from love.
Between those two blues tracks are "Shadows" and "She's an Artist." "Shadows" is an acoustic ballad where Cobi details how memories of his ex hover over him like a shadow. Even though it sounds like a soothing folk song, the lyrics showcase Cobi's emotional struggle throughout the album.
Cobi's unpolished vocals in "She's an Artist" provide a more experimental sound to Cobi's music. The rhythmic vocal sample combined with the drumbeat leads to an intense, dark-sounding song filled with reverb. Revisiting similar themes of forbidden temptations, it is the perfect bridge between "Shadows" and Operator."
From the badass feeling of "Operator" to the vulnerable feeling of "Pour One For Me," Cobi sings a lullaby as he pays tribute to his former relationship.
With his falsettos resembling an apology for a failed relationship, Cobi's falsettos personify the emptiness and sadness he feels throughout the song.
Instead of drowning in his sorrows, Cobi reflects on his shortcomings from his relationship in "Hard Feelings." The mid-tempo, bass drum-heavy song starts Cobi's recovery process from love.
Transitioning into "Keep Climbing," Cobi digs deeper within himself by looking at himself critically. The epic feeling of the song reflects Cobi's renewed sense of self after conquering heartbreak.
Closing out the album with "Highs and Lows" reflects the journey that Cobi takes with love during the album. With a Maxwell-like falsetto, Cobi finds comfort within himself and his journey, having gone through the highs and lows of love.
Throughout the album, you see the personal growth that Cobi goes through from his relationships. Although it is unclear whether it is the same person, Cobi's honesty showcases both the beauty and the pain that comes with the vulnerability of love. Sure, some are self-inflicted, but it reflects situations that we encounter daily. Besides the range of multi-generational influences, Songs From The Ashes is perfect for every phase of love and a glimpse into the world of the man simply known by the name Cobi.
Connect with Cobi on Instagram @cobimusic.
Photo Credit to @cobimusic