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Elizabeth Cook - Welder

  by John Clarkson

published: 24 / 6 / 2010

Elizabeth Cook - Welder
Label: Proper Records
Format: CD


Appealing combination of traditional-sounding country and contemporary themes on fine latest album from Florida-based singer-songwriter, Elizabeth Cook

Elizabeth Cook has dedicated her fifth and latest album, ‘Welder’, to her father and her late mother. Cook’s father, Tom, was sent to jail as a young man for running moonshine. While he was in the penitentiary, he learnt how to become a welder and played the upright bass in the prison band. Upon his release he became the solo proprietor of Cook’s Welding in Wildwood, Florida, one of the state’s best known welding shops. Her mother, Joyce, who died in 2008, as well as raising eleven children, of which Elizabeth was the youngest, was also a singer and a songwriter, appearing on radio and local television as a girl and playing in country groups with her husband. Family and the responsibilities that come with it is one of the two dominant themes of ‘Welder’. Cook, who started appearing on stage with her parents at the age of four and who formed her first band at the age of nine, comes from the traditional school of country, having a lot in common in her in her drawling, brassy vocal delivery with singers such as Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton. Musically ‘Welder’ is a throwback to the era of her parents as well, featuring waltzes, honky tonk numbers and weeping ballads. Lyrically, however, in its tales of junkies and its frank depictions of sex, the latter of which is its other major theme, ‘Welder’ is very much an album of this age. ‘Heroin Addict Sister’ is a stark acoustic guitar ballad, into which wisps of other instruments -tingles of mandolin, ripples of harmonica and breezes of steel guitar-slowly emerge. It captures poignantly the constant knife edge agony that many families go through with an addict in their midst (“She is my heroin addict sister/And I hate to see her go/And I hate to see her holding on/At the edge of the same old rope”). The dreamy soft haze of ‘Girlfriend Tonight’ tells of the fading intimacy between a married couple and one half of it’s attempt to give it renewed spark(“Honey, I know I am just your wife/But I want to be your girlfriend tonight”). The autobiographical slow-burning country rock of ‘Mama’s Funeral’ is meanwhile about the strange comfort that can sometimes be found in shared grief (“It was surprising to me, thought it’d be as hard as hard could be/But everybody took a little piece of the pain/And they spread it around like summer/And it helped to ease the load/More than I could’ve known”). It is not, however, all by any means so dark. Cook has an infectiously bawdy line in humour and is often hilarious. The stuttering, snappy jangle-punk of the largely spoken word ‘El Camino’ finds Cook smirking at a her younger self for falling against her better nature for a totally inappropriate man and the vintage car that he drives (“He’s all wrong for me/ He’s wearing shirts that are tripping on LSD/I must be high as a kite on diesel fumes/He’s got me sporting bell bottoms and braids to school/I never thought he’d get this far”). Rollicking jig ‘Yes to Booty’, which has Cook serving as a cheerleader for a team of yodelling men backing vocalists, pokes fun at brewers’ droop and booze-induced male impotence (“It’s common knowledge round here/When you say yes to beer you say no to booty”). The uproarious and thunderous-sounding ‘Snake in My Heart’ finds Cook dealing with her adulterous and thieving boyfriend with cheerful abandon and by chucking him out into the street(“We balled up the sheet snake and everything/Kicked out the door and gave it a fling/There’s a snake in the bed/A snake in the bed”). ‘Welder’ is an album of distinct parts, the old-fashioned and the up-to-date, the poignant and the profane, moulded together, as its title suggests, into a seamless whole. Elizabeth Cook proves herself on it to be an artist of unique voice and versatile personality.

Track Listing:-
1 All the Time
2 El Camino
3 Not California
4 Heroin Addict Sister
5 Yes to Booty
6 Blackland Farmer
7 Girlfriend Tonight
8 Rock N Roll Man
9 Mama's Funeral
10 I'm Beginning to Forget
11 Snake in the Bed
12 Follow You Like Smoke
13 I'll Never Know
14 Til Then

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