Nashville chews up three truckloads of musicians every day, and Elizabeth Cook got it out of her system pretty early in her career... After a brief flirtation with Top Forty chart action, Cook went indie and has been an Americana idol ever since. Here's a quick look at her work...
Elizabeth Cook "The Blue Album" (2000)
Elizabeth Cook "Hey Y'All" (Warner Nashville, 2002)
Although she kinda lays her aw shucks, down-home persona on a bit thick, this Nashville-based hillbilly rebel certainly made me sit up and pay attention with her bold major-label debut... This album is a welcome throwback to the pop-savvy hick music of years gone by, twangy yet tightly crafted, and full of good-natured intelligence and a real sense of fun. Hey Y'All is an open challenge to the glitzy overproduction of today's Top 40 country. Cook's squeaky little voice draws swift comparison to Dolly Parton, a likening she eagerly welcomes, as heard on the clever tribute, "Dolly," which humorously details the sleazy come-ons and not-so-subtle harassment a country gal must endure en route to a record contract. Cook aligns herself with old-school hillbilly holdouts like Porter Wagoner and Melba Montgomery who stuck to their rural roots in the 1960s, even as the rest of the country world got slicker and slicker. There's a little hint of early '70s countrypolitan in Cook's work, particularly on tunes like the Lynn Anderson-styled "Everyday Sunshine" and the album's super-catchy, super-poppy opener, "Stupid Things," although by today's standards Cook is practically a musical Luddite. She might not top the Billboard charts anytime soon, but folks who like their country music pure and simple might want to check this disc out. Keep your eyes on this gal!
Elizabeth Cook "This Side Of The Moon" (Thirty Tigers, 2005)
(Produced by Jeff Gordon)
A super-twangy independent release from a squeaky-voiced artist whose major label debut a couple of years back led to a summary dismissal by said major label... Admirably, Ms. Cook just picked herself up and got on with it, doing things her way, which means with a truckload of energy and a two tons of twang. This album sounds a lot like the legendary EP that Kelly Willis released on A&M Records before they let her go... The vocals and the picking are all super-twangy and a real treat for alt-oriented fans... Although, if the truth be told, a little bit goes a long way... There aren't any songs on here that I don't like, but the cumulative effect of listening to the whole album was a little taxing... Best heard, perhaps, a few songs at a time, or in a mix of music... That way, your ears are really gonna light up when you hear what this gal has to offer!
Elizabeth Cook "Balls" (Zealous, 2007)
(Produced by Rodney Crowell)
Forsaking Top 40 fame, but not Back 40 notoriety, squeaky-voiced twangster Elizabeth Cook goes for novelty song gold with "Sometimes It Takes Balls To Be A Woman," a rather forthright song that lays out pretty much the case you'd expect with a title like that... It's a brash feminist blast, backed up by similarly muscular barrelhouses such as "Don't Go Borrowing Trouble" and "Time Are Tough In Rock 'n' Roll." Her subtle side comes out on the incandescent gospel weeper, "Mama's Prayers" and an appropriately understated cover of the Velvet Underground's "Sunday Morning." Almost all the songs on here are Cook originals, demonstrating yet again that Cook is a force to be reckoned with. Nashville may have slammed the door in her face a few years back, but their loss is Indietown's gain... Cook is clearly conscious of the divide, closing the album with two songs that look at success from opposite sides -- "Gonna Be" says her day is still gonna come, while the lullaby-like "Always Tomorrow" sends a gentle warning to those who feel on top of the world: don't get too comfortable, folks, 'cause there's always tomorrow. Either way, this disc is another nice one from this underrated hillbilly filly. Check it out, folks!
Elizabeth Cook "Welder" (Thirty Tigers, 2010)
(Produced by Don Was)
Elizabeth Cook "Gospel Plow" (EP) (Thirty-One Tigers, 2012)
Hick Music Index