brighter things

I’ve been waiting for the right time to tell you guys about something. And I have no idea what I meant in my head by “right time.” In fact, I rarely know what my little brain means when it tries to tell me things. But most of the time I listen which is why I’ve waited until now to talk about something that I’ve been bursting at the seams to talk about for weeks (months!).

I want to tell you about my friend Steven.

 As fate would have it our little family shared a street with Steven’s little family when we moved to town in the summer of 2007. Minutes after meeting him as he watched his then three year old son pedal laps around our cul-de-sac I jumped into our car and exclaimed to Brent that we had found “our people!” The quick to form grin on Brent’s face told me he agreed. And my woman’s intuition doesn’t lie. Our families have been friends since that day. The kind of friends that show up unannounced with bottles of wine and no plans beyond popping the corks in the backyard. The friends that call each other the second after grama offers up babysitting services. The kind of friends that plan distantly and hopefully for joining our families through the marriage(s) of our children. Having Steven and Amy Jackson in our life has gone a long way in making Huntsville into home.

Which is why I will unabashedly share this image of myself proudly bearing the t-shirt announcing Steven’s latest project:

(Let it be said that I’ve never been afraid to make a fool of myself for the sake of art.)

(Or afraid to make a fool of my husband for that matter…)

I knew from the first evening we met Steven, on that July evening three years ago, that he was a musician. (Google is a beautiful thing.) What I didn’t realize on that day was the way his music would speak to my soul. First from his perch in our living room on late nights, guitar in hand. And now from my iphone, computer, and car – daily, often hourly. Many nights Brent and I listened in awe as the words and lyrics spilled out of him effortlessly, his wife Amy humming along on the couch next to me. We begged for him to record an album again (his previous albums had come out years before we knew him), and happily we weren’t the only ones asking.

Now many of those songs we first heard beautifully bouncing off the warm yellow walls of our living room have taken on lives of their own on the album Before We Land. Steven decided to release the album under the project name Brighter Things because it includes breathtaking musical contributions from some pretty fantab artists beyond the one and only Steven Jackson — as he says, it’s “made brighter” by Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews Band), Sean Hurley (John Mayer band), Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter), Eric Heywood (Ray LaMontagne) & more. How’s that for an impressive cast of characters?

Here’s the thing. Beyond the big names (did I mention Steven played for years in a band with American Idol winner Taylor Hicks?) and the accolades that come with them, this music feels like a soundtrack for my life. The life that has me loving until it scares me. And wondering if my children will know that same kind of love.  The lyrics wind themselves around my heart in a way that won’t allow me to shake them off . If had any talent for verse and song I’d swear I’d written them myself. (I didn’t, of course, but I have it on good authority that at least one line on this album was written by one of Steven’s young children – the talent runs deep in this family.)

I believe in this album and I want you guys to hear it. Like hear it, hear it. Like make everybody in the room shut up so you don’t miss a line, hear it. And then once its made its way into your heart like it has mine I hope you’ll find yourself dancing in the kitchen with your babies in your arms the way we end up most times the song “Bad Dream” comes on.

Because I want you to hear this album so badly I begged Steven to let me give some stuff away. He agreed because he’s awesome like that (and he also knows I’ll stop cooking for him regularly if he doesn’t). He must be really into my food because check out the list of things up for grabs:

5 full album downloads
3 autographed CDs
2 T-shirts
1 bundle of tshirt / CD / Download
That’s 11 winners people! You can hear the entire album (FOR FREE!) on Steven’s website: If you listen to it and share your favorite song in the comments section I’ll count your comment twice. And once you listen through and decide you can’t wait to find out the winner because you HAVE to have it NOW, use the code “erincobb25” to get anything in the store for 25% off (including the instant download, physical CD, t’s, old albums, etc.).  Of course, for you itunes junkies you can find the album there too. 
One last thing before I sign off for the night. Last week the Jacksons were at our house. Their son asked me, “Do you know why my Dad’s music is called Brighter Things?”
“No,” I said, kind of lying. And he answered, in that sweet, sure way that he has, “It’s for us. Me and my sister. And my mom. It’s because we’re his Brighter Things.”

And he couldn’t be more right.

p.s. love you forever if you Tweet/Facebook today’s post.

Amy T.July 7, 2010 - 10:04 pm

You sold me already! Heading to his page right now…should I have my tissues in hand?

WendyJuly 7, 2010 - 10:07 pm

this is so weird. because I knew I recognized the album cover from somewhere and then realized that my friend Sarah had linked to one of the songs sometime last week on facebook. It was a weird “small world” moment.

and you both look awesome wearing those shirts.

LatriceJuly 7, 2010 - 10:11 pm

Loved this totally relaxed sound. My favorite was You Crush me. Great music!

Meg DuffyJuly 7, 2010 - 10:12 pm

Bigger, Brighter has to be my favorite I think. Love his voice!

AmyJuly 7, 2010 - 10:32 pm

Thanks for the “sneak peek” during our vacation!

I can attest that it is as awesome as Erin says!

GinaJuly 7, 2010 - 10:37 pm

Can’t wait to check out the CD, I have been looking for some new music. Thanks for the heads up Erin.

NiccoleJuly 7, 2010 - 10:47 pm

My favorite song is “Hide With Me” – it was so hard to choose which one I would pick as my favorite, so with that said being I can only choose one – HIDE WITH ME definitly !!! Awesome CD, and thanks you for sharing it with me as I am always looking for new music to add to my already very large collection.

robinJuly 7, 2010 - 11:00 pm

you have some AWESOME neighbors! why can’t my neighbors be as cool & interesting as yours?! wow.

btw, what a sweet homage to his family! LOVE that his son told you that little tidbit.

i’m off to check out some “brighter things” right now. 😉

tammyJuly 7, 2010 - 11:09 pm

I first found you through Karen Russell’s blog. You both have an amazing way behind the lens and I love looking at your photos, trying to figure out how I can duplicate it! You both also have an amazing way with words and this description and story about your friend makes me want to be in your living room listening to music and stories … you’ve made me impatient to hear more. My favorite is Hide with Me or Christmas Lights … both wonderful pieces!

Hillary @ The Other MamaJuly 7, 2010 - 11:12 pm

Can NOT wait to go check it out. So incredibly cool and VERY exciting!!

shelbyJuly 7, 2010 - 11:16 pm

Just my style of music! I really love it and would listen to it over and over again. I love track 2 “not a bird” love it!

Lorena MoraJuly 7, 2010 - 11:29 pm

I think that is so sweet how the title represents his family. In this world nowadays most people only care about themselves. Here’s to hoping I win and I’m sure he will be very successful. Cool give away I always love new music.

Lisa B.July 8, 2010 - 3:40 am

Can’t wait to check it out! It may be just the ticket for me to chill to while we wait for our next ‘bright thing’..a new grandbaby…our first!

BernadetteJuly 8, 2010 - 4:21 am

I’m gonna enter this drawing and hope that I win even though I didn’t peek at the soundtrack – good luck to your friend. I’m sure this will be my new fave bunch o’ songs.

Jennifer WJuly 8, 2010 - 4:47 am


DebraJuly 8, 2010 - 4:52 am

I enjoyed the listen. My favorite song was Bad Dream.

RhondaJuly 8, 2010 - 5:36 am

Cool tunes! Loved Bigger, Brighter, What You Gonna Do? and You Crush Me. Good Luck to Steven!

GramaJuly 8, 2010 - 5:49 am

Listening right now. Can’t decide on favorite yet, but I did link this post on a FB update (not that anyone reads my FB, but still….)

CourtneyJuly 8, 2010 - 6:15 am

So sweet that his son knows he’s his Dad’s brighter thing! That sealed the deal for me! I’m listening to his CD at work and I’m with you–Bad Dream is great!

elizabeth HolderJuly 8, 2010 - 6:28 am

wow!!! He is awesome – I was skeptical at first – but I have listened to all the songs and
Bigger-Brighter is my favorite –
{I’ve played it 3x so far this am}
thanks for doing this –

JenniferJuly 8, 2010 - 6:29 am

I’ll have to wait to naptime in order to listen interrupted but it’s first on my to-do list today!!

StacyJuly 8, 2010 - 6:34 am

sounds amazing. I can’t wait to check it out (my work internet is blocking me).

BobbiJuly 8, 2010 - 6:42 am

Thanks for linking us up Erin. I have been listening to the album at work. My favorites so far have to be Bigger, Brighter and You Crush Me.

heather mayberryJuly 8, 2010 - 7:01 am

this album is awesome! he has a very cool style and a great voice. this is the sound was my favorite. i can relate to it. it speaks to you right off the bat. you are a great friend to promote him like this. and the fact that it is genuine makes it that much sweeter. your pictures are too cute.

MeganJuly 8, 2010 - 7:15 am

Wow. He’s awesome! He has an amazing sound.

JodyJuly 8, 2010 - 7:21 am

I am loving his voice- bigger, brighter is my favorite so far. and I love his curly hair!

ShawnaJuly 8, 2010 - 7:21 am

Love this post! You totally piqued my interest… had to go to his site (I’ve been looking for new songs for my ipod anyway ;)) and listen for myself.
I fell IN LOVE with Hide With Me… gorgeous song!! Thank you for opening my ears to this artist!

CareyJuly 8, 2010 - 7:22 am

Erin – just came across your blog from a friend!

Steven is fantastically talented – his lyrics are just so impactful. I really enjoyed “What You Gonna Do?” but to be honest, really loved most of the tracks on this disc.

Weird small world note – my ex went to high school with Sean Hurley and I totally met him at their 10yr reunion. Sweet, sweet down to earth guy. He’s from my area!

ellen pattonJuly 8, 2010 - 7:47 am

I’d love to win any of those brighter things!

CrystalJuly 8, 2010 - 7:57 am

I like flash of gold! So very cool!

Olivia CJuly 8, 2010 - 7:58 am

Love it! Because it is the middle of the morning and I have three kids age 4 and under, I didn’t get to listen to the whole album to pick a favorite. 🙂 However I did skim through it and it is wonderful!

amyJuly 8, 2010 - 8:03 am

Ooooh….headed to his website right now to listen. I love new recommendations for music!!

AngJuly 8, 2010 - 8:06 am

Love, love love! Hard to pick a favorite as it keeps changing, but as right now I would say “You Crush Me”. And, um, seriously, how do you have such awesome neighbors? I totally want to move on your street and be the kind of “pop over with a bottle of wine” friends!

DebbieJuly 8, 2010 - 8:07 am

You Crush Me is my favorite…in one word…beautiful!!! My boys (4 and 18 months) and I did enjoy dancing in the living room to ALL of the songs, though. Loved your post (and all previous) about the wonderful friends you find along your life’s journey. We’re getting ready to move for the 3rd time in 6 years, and you inspire me to be hopeful about the possibilities at our next home! Thank you (big hug)!

KeriJuly 8, 2010 - 8:11 am

Gotta have “Hide with Me”.

Thanks so much for the post.

christiJuly 8, 2010 - 8:16 am

Love it! How exciting – his website looks great and functions beautifully on my mobile. It’s hard to choose, but I really like “bigger, brighter”

Claire BeelerJuly 8, 2010 - 8:27 am

Beautiful album – so many different songs that are great in their own way. “What You Gonna Do” is my favorite so far, though it is impossible to just chose one!

tara pollard pakostaJuly 8, 2010 - 8:32 am

How cooL!
Awesome music, great voice,
and it’s music my girls could listen to
with me, which is a bonus!
thanks for posting!
lucky you having such great neighbors, then again,
they are so lucky to have you guys too!

MeredithJuly 8, 2010 - 8:41 am

I love music recommendations! Thanks. I quite enjoyed it. My fave is You Crush Me. Thanks!!

HuyenJuly 8, 2010 - 8:47 am

How awesome! Great list of contributions to the album. I can’t wait to listen to all of it!

JohannaJuly 8, 2010 - 8:48 am

Ok, now after reading that comment from his son…I am in tears. How incredibly sweet.

PattyJuly 8, 2010 - 8:57 am

what a lovely post. you are blessed to have found such wonderful friends.
my favorite is ‘bigger, brighter’

AmberJuly 8, 2010 - 8:59 am

What You Gonna Do? is one of my favs on here. Not only do I say that phrase (quite often) but the beat was fun too! Thanks for sharing this – I love the style.

LeahJuly 8, 2010 - 9:16 am

I think I’ve commented before that I found your blog through Karen Russell and was quite surprised to find that you live in the same town as I do. Well it’s a small world because I work with Steven at NMT! Will definitely facebook this post. 🙂

Sally C.July 8, 2010 - 9:53 am

I loved this guy before hearing the music. Any kid who knows that he’s his dad’s “brighter thing” is being raised by an amazing person. What wonderful friends you have!

It’s a bonus that the music is fantastic too! I’m a fan of “Christmas Lights”…they do really make all things seem possible, don’t they? I hope this album finds some great fans and followers!

HeatherJuly 8, 2010 - 10:33 am

I love Florida…but all of his music is just dreamy.

MelanieJuly 8, 2010 - 11:27 am

What a sweet story of how the name came to be:)

michelleJuly 8, 2010 - 11:29 am

If I don’t win, I will be buying. You crush me… WOW!

TawnyaJuly 8, 2010 - 11:29 am

cute guy, cute kids, great music. Loved “bad dream”

marthaJuly 8, 2010 - 11:36 am

Cool. You sold me already on the album. I love meaningful music and the artist are incredible!

KristenJuly 8, 2010 - 11:36 am

love this stuff! Hoping my winning luck comes through… 🙂

Tracey SkadbergJuly 8, 2010 - 11:38 am

I will be checking it out! I wish him the best!

Jennifer FinchJuly 8, 2010 - 11:38 am

I’m all about some free! I can’t download though, crappy wireless connection where I live, but it’s better than NO internet lol Can’t wait to hear his music 🙂

SuseJuly 8, 2010 - 11:42 am

Oh it’s really really lovely. I decided I loved it about eight bars into the first song, but I really like Christmas Lights-there’s a beautiful sentiment behind the lyrics. And that’s an impressive cast list of contributors – seriously talented people in the mix there!

JenJuly 8, 2010 - 11:44 am

Awesome sound, love it! Going to check itunes now!

KellyJuly 8, 2010 - 12:01 pm

I only got to listen to clips to each one (baby about to wake from nap) but I think my favorite was Bigger, Brighter.

Does he ever tour? He’d be awesome for Eddie’s attic here in Atlanta.

Janelle AndersonJuly 8, 2010 - 12:04 pm

Just AWESOME! Your blog has ROCKED this week…even more than it always does. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING HIS TALENT.

j.j.July 8, 2010 - 12:08 pm

i’m off to listen now because that sounds like MY kind of music, too.

JennyJuly 8, 2010 - 12:09 pm

Fantastic, thank you so much for sharing this with us. What a talented guy and from what it sounds like, an amazing father, husband and friend.
The song “Christmas Lights” really spoke to me… I’m so glad to add his music to my ipod!
You are a beautiful soul Erin for sharing so many things with your readers.

Janelle AndersonJuly 8, 2010 - 12:11 pm

Okay, I’m back! The more I listen to his music the more I understand every word you said in your post! TRULY AMAZING! I think I might be in love…

Jen SpainJuly 8, 2010 - 12:23 pm

Awesome. Thank you so much for this post– listening to this makes me reconnect with the magic of the everyday. Favorite song (so far) — You Crush Me. I’ve listened to it while eating lunch with my kids and playing Uno, and they were singing along AND getting along! Must be the positivity in the music.

AngelaJuly 8, 2010 - 12:52 pm

I liked them all! Bigger, Brighter and Christmas Lights were favs, but I also liked others!!

Thanks for sharing this! I hope I win! If not, itunes and I may need to have a little chat! 😀

Beatrice KillamJuly 8, 2010 - 1:15 pm

Great giveaway! Off to take a listen now but it must be great if you like it so much!!

AmySJuly 8, 2010 - 1:23 pm

I need some new music in my life. Thank you for sharing this! Love his son’s comment about the cd’s title…nothing is more rewarding than having your children know without a doubt how much they mean to you.

EBPitcherJuly 8, 2010 - 1:37 pm

Do I have to choose just one song? OK, I will. Little Flash of Gold. His music certainly speaks to my soul!

JohannaJuly 8, 2010 - 1:44 pm

How can you not want to jump up and dance around to Bad Dream?!?!
But I also love Florida. The nostalgia. The remembering of summers past. The smoothness of his voice as he sings Florida….ahhhh.
This is the sound – of our back porch, of a baby’s cry, of a wedding march, of a symphony of rocking chairs….I’m in tears.
Can I just say I love them all?

JenJuly 8, 2010 - 1:55 pm

I’m listening right now. So far my favs are “Bigger, Brighter” and “You crush me.”

TeriJuly 8, 2010 - 2:17 pm

Great chillaxin music! I’m lovin “Not a Bird!”

P.C.July 8, 2010 - 2:22 pm

Hi. I just had to let you and Steven know that I love his music–so thoughtful and real…and I love Steven’s hair 🙂

HeatherJuly 8, 2010 - 2:27 pm

I LOVE the harmony on Hide with Me . . . .this song gave me chills–it’s like he can read my mind!

Melissa JonesJuly 8, 2010 - 3:12 pm

Hide with Me is a new favorite! Thanks for sharing.

Rebecca BrighamJuly 8, 2010 - 3:42 pm

I’m not at home, so can’t listen yet… but I promise I will! Thanks to all for the giveaways!

Jen HewittJuly 8, 2010 - 4:39 pm

I’m listening to the album, and I think “What You Gonna Do” is my favorite!

KaraJuly 8, 2010 - 6:32 pm

I absolutely loved Bigger, Brighter. I don’t know who reads my facebook page, but I’ll post a link. All the songs were great.

JodiJuly 8, 2010 - 6:37 pm

Just when I needed some new music! Thanks. Love “Bad Dreams”

AmberJuly 8, 2010 - 6:48 pm

Hide with me is my fav!

Amber PeronaJuly 8, 2010 - 8:12 pm

I love Hide with Me!

Such a talented guy! 🙂

LisaJuly 8, 2010 - 8:23 pm

Thank you. love that you are so excited. i totally get like this about music i love to…getting ready for sweet.

Lisa EJuly 8, 2010 - 8:36 pm

I could use some brighter things… been a rough week!

Natascha GambleJuly 8, 2010 - 9:52 pm

“Hide with me” is an amazing song 🙂 thanks for the listen!!!

AmandaJuly 9, 2010 - 7:10 am

Listening to it now . . . Love it so far! Hope all is well with you and yours, Erin.


KymnJuly 9, 2010 - 9:06 am

I am totally in love with the music! Bigger, Brighter is completely mesmorizing! Please tell Steven thank you for sharing his gift.

KelliJuly 9, 2010 - 9:29 am

That last part was the best, his brighter things!

StaceyJuly 9, 2010 - 10:32 am

Love it and love the sound of his voice and the music!! Thanks for sharing! And Just love Bigger, Brighter .. .the words, his voice, the music. Wonderful!!

♥ DebbieJuly 9, 2010 - 11:47 am

Awesome giveaway! Awesome music! I spent all morning listening to his CD…..hard to pick a favorite song as they are all great!! However I really do love lyrics in ‘This Is The Sound’ and ‘You Crush Me’..

KaseyJuly 9, 2010 - 1:02 pm

I like “Not a Bird”. Thanks for sharing. I love singer/songwriters that are new and up and coming – Brighter Things is great!

KristyJuly 9, 2010 - 1:26 pm

Hard to choose – but I’ll go with “Hide With Me”. Thanks for sharing!

KellyJuly 9, 2010 - 1:38 pm

I really liked Hide with Me, but they are all great!

Melissa MJuly 9, 2010 - 1:46 pm

Love his voice! And what a sweet, sweet post all for him!

Jennifer BerryJuly 9, 2010 - 5:21 pm

Hide With Me was my favorite….awesome!!

LizNJuly 9, 2010 - 5:54 pm

oops, I already wrote this in your other blog – “Flooooorida!”

KimberlyJuly 9, 2010 - 6:05 pm

Great music! I really enjoyed “Wide Awake”. I would love to own the album!

LaceyJuly 9, 2010 - 7:01 pm

Seriously, so much talent on one street!! I’m having a glass of wine and listening to Steven’s music and feeling a bit sappy! I’m really having a hard time naming a single favorite, but ultimately I keep coming back to Hide with Me. I also love the female vocalist on that one and the violin, too! Sweet!

ValerieJuly 10, 2010 - 7:01 am

Loved listening to it! My faves are: Hide With Me; Florida; Christmas Lights; Bigger, Brighter…heck they’re all good. 🙂

SarahJuly 11, 2010 - 5:07 pm

I love new music. Thanks for the introduction!

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