Among the responsibilities of being a full-time student, junior Cole Decker recently added recording artist to his resume. The Petal native and integrated marketing communications major has just released his EP “Pretty Good at Being Alright.”
Much like Cole himself, his music is straightforward. He plays classic country music more often than not, using only his voice and a guitar. The subject matter and vocal twang present in most of his songs will appeal to the more obvious country fan.
But even if CMT doesn’t fall in your top 20 TV stations, Decker brings something every music fan can appreciate – simplicity.
He plays guitar simply and well, without any beats or remixes trying to create something that doesn’t belong. In the age of country pop and artists like Sam Smith and Jason Aldean trying to create a country rap genre, Decker chooses understated music without the bells and whistles.
“I started playing on piano, but then I quit because I wanted to be a football star. That didn’t work out… I’m not very athletic,” Decker laughed. “Then I just started playing [guitar] a little bit and I thought this is kind of fun.”
What began as a hobby has quickly become a major part of Decker’s life. A desire to play more live shows at more venues motivated Decker to head to the recording studio.
“I just wanted to get something out where I could just hand it in and say ‘listen to me on iTunes.’ So that they actually know I’m not full of crap,” he said. “That’s what I got for Christmas – studio time.”
Recorded in Jackson at Blue Sky Studios, Decker’s EP “Pretty Good at Being Alright” will be well-liked by the classic country fan. All six songs are acoustic, just Decker and his guitar, and the entire EP was recorded all in one afternoon.
Decker said his sound is often compared to fellow country crooner Corey Smith. Decker has followed several other performers in the Oxford music scene since becoming one himself.
“Keith Sanders – that’s my mentor,” Decker said. “In my opinion, he’s the best singer in Oxford.”
Recording “Pretty Good at Being Alright” was as straightforward as Decker’s music itself.
“A lot of it was one take, just playing through the whole song,” he said. “Just me and my guitar.”
Locals Restaurant & Bar on the Square and Kings Steakhouse off College Hill Road are two of Decker’s frequent gigs around Oxford.
One of the more emotional songs on the EP is “His Name,” written shortly after Decker’s grandfather passed away. The melding of two sides of his life, songwriter and grandson, is what gives “Pretty Good at Being Alright” its backbone. Beyond the laidback classic country sound that permeates the album, “His Name” is unabashedly deep and comes with no frills.
“I just wrote it,” Decker said. “He was real popular around my hometown. Everybody knew him … they all love that song. It kind of sucks to play sometimes [in Petal] because my grandma’s over there in the corner tearing up.”
“Take Me Back” is another song that pulls on the heartstrings. The guitar throughout it remains understated and beautiful.
Listening to the EP, it’s hard to believe Decker first picked up a guitar a little over a year ago. Without the over-mixed vocals and the constant backbeat ever-present in so many country songs nowadays, his music finds its beauty in remaining simple and unadorned.
Decker’s EP “Pretty Good at Being Alright” is available on both iTunes and Spotify. His Facebook page, “Cole Decker Music” regularly posts about his upcoming playing engagements.
He isn’t a Nashville millionaire wearing thousand dollar boots while singing about living paycheck to paycheck. Decker takes pride in where he’s from and his music reflects who he actually is – college student with a big heart from a small town in Mississippi.