ELIZABETH COOK – ” Aftermath “

Posted: November 21, 2020 in Classic Albums, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , , ,

Elizabeth Cook is a Nashville-based singer-songwriter from Wildwood, FL– the New York Times lauds her “a sharp and surprising country singer”. A veteran SiriusXM Outlaw Country Radio DJ, Cook has hosted her own show, “Apron Strings”, for over 10 years. “Aftermath£ addresses love, heartbreak, addiction, death, resurrection. This is another breakthrough for this artist that I’ve known and loved for so many years. She’s telling us things we need to know. We’d be best served to listen.

Elizabeth Cook titled her new album Aftermath . It’s unclear if she meant this in tribute to the Stones’ record or if this was just coincidental. However, like the British boys, Cook often looks at the more sombre aspects of life. Her songs are different in one crucial respect. The Stones expressed themselves as passive observers to the world in which they lived. They were going along for the ride and offering commentary. Cook’s 12 self-penned songs take things a step further. She reflects on what has passed and continues as a protagonist who has been changed by experience. She’s not willing to accept what is. The “aftermath” will be of her own making.

The songs on Cook’s Aftermath are sonically very diverse, from the martial beat of “Bones” to “Daddy (I Got Love for You)” to the lively “Perfect Girls of Pop” to the folkie talking blues of “Mary the Submissing Years”. The album was produced by Butch Walker (Green Day, Weezer, Taylor Swift) and recorded at his Ruby Red Studios in Santa Monica. Cook’s band features Steve Duerst (bass), Herschel Van Dyke (drums), Aaron Embry (keyboards), Andrew Leahey (guitar), and Whit Wright (pedal steel, dobro). Walker’s productions give the songs a tight structure from which the players and Cook can loosely deliver the goods.

Official Video for Elizabeth Cook’s “Thick Georgia Woman” from the upcoming album “Aftermath!” begins with a strong, repetitive guitar line that implies the title character’s toughness. When Cook breaks free of the instrumental limits by singing overlong lines, it sounds as if she’s breaking the rules. And that’s the point. The thick woman doesn’t bend to fit the mould. Her strength comes from a natural place. She’s got “a basket of peaches under her clothes”, and that’s not all. Cook sings the descriptive lines with a slurred Southern accent as she identifies with the title character.

Cook has a husky voice that she uses to stress the realism of what she’s singing. By realism, this does not the mundane details of actual existence as much as the psychological truths we tell ourselves. She gently mocks the pretensions of pretty girls who croon sweetly on “Perfect Girls of Pop” but doesn’t fault the singers as much as empathize with those who haven’t yet experienced pain (“they never had their heart slammed in a door”). Cook lets the listener know that she’s familiar with making “Bad Decisions”, telling fibs (“Two Chords and a Lie”), and being ashamed (“When She Comes”), but she doesn’t express regret because she has learned from her mistakes.

Cook also has a sense of humour that prevents her from taking herself too literally. The album’s funniest song works as a tribute to John Prine. He wrote an imaginative song about Jesus’ missing years. She creatively addresses Jesus’ mother and her “submissing years” with a wry panache that would make the Singing Mailman proud. The women who populate Cook’s album range from the Virgin Mary to “Half Hanged Mary”, a woman accused of witchcraft in the 1680s who was hung from a tree but survived and lived another 14 years. Many of the other tunes appear to be autobiographical, with Cook herself as the good/bad lady who lived to tell the tale.

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