Tuesday, June 01, 2010

‘Welder’ - Elizabeth Cook

Rising country star Elizabeth Cook’s father actually was a welder, a trade he picked up whilst doing time in a penitentiary for selling moonshine. Jeez, how much more country can you get? Well she’s got 11 half brothers and sisters too and she cut her teeth on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry...hell that’s about as country as anyone on the planet. Of course that could be a problem for a lot of potential listeners. Country music is something you either love or hate right? It’s like folk, most people refuse to see past the word, neatly shutting themselves off from a rich vein of material that’s got as much to offer as any other genre. If you’re a lover of country the chances are that you’ll fall for 'Welder'(Elizabeth’s fifth album) on the first listen. Vocally there’s more than a touch of the undisputed queen of country herself, Miss Dolly Parton, whilst lyrically and thematically (like most of the best country albums) it’s anything but easy listening in places. Just take a look at some of the song titles...‘Heroin Addict Sister’ and ‘Mama’s Funeral’ for instance...that’s just pure country gold. And, more than anything else, that’s why non country lovers should give this album a spin too. Cook doesn’t just wear her heart on her sleeve, she wears her soul, libido (just cop a listen to ‘Yes to Booty’), hopes and fears on there as well, making this as honest and emotional an album as you’re likely to hear this year.

Producer Don Was has wisely embraced his inner country and lets the pureness of the music shine through, ably played by a crack team of musicians who got the material down in a week keeping everything sounding as fresh as a daisy (duke). If you fancy dipping your toe in have a listen to my picks from the album first ‘All the Time’ (a rollicking hoedown of a track that’s as good as country gets), the rockier (with shades of Shania Twain’s 'That Don’t Impress Me Much') ‘El Camino’ and the aforementioned ‘Heroin Addict Sister’ (a heartbreaking but honest account of one of Cook’s sister’s battles with the ‘devil’s DNA’). The stripped back ‘Follow You Like Smoke’ is an intriguing proposition too, coming off like the kind of track (lyrically at least) that you could imagine Depeche Mode covering. Now there’s a thought. We’ve had Johnny Cash doing country tinged version of rock tracks, how about turning the tables eh? Whether Gahan and co ever get to grips with Cook’s new one or not, you should. At a time when many musicians are all too keen to shy away from anything that might endanger that all important Pepsi deal it’s good to hear someone who’s still willing to put it all out there.

‘Welder’ is out 14th June 2010 on Proper Records and Elizabeth herself is on tour in the UK throughout July.

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