Published Dec 01, 2003It seems that Raleigh, North Carolina keeps giving Austin, Texas a run for its money as the alt-country hotbed. Following the initial success of Whiskeytown and Tift Merritt now comes Thad Cockrell with this solid sophomore effort. Another gorgeous production from NC legend Chris Stamey, Warmth & Beauty leans heavily on Cockrells high lonesome tenor and overall his approach seems a throwback to an early 70s country/soul marriage. Fans of the Jayhawks will surely respond to this immediately and in fact, one time Hawks keyboadist Jen Gunderman is part of the band. Her Floyd Cramer-like piano helps make "Why Go? a classic weeper, while "Some Tears sounds like a lost Whiskeytown song that Ryan Adams wishes he had written. As Warmth & Beauty unfolds, Cockrells depth as a songwriter actually becomes staggering. Another great release from a community of artists that is continually pushing itself to new heights.