Sunday, September 26, 2010

Album Review : Welder - Elizabeth Cook 8*

With the most Southern drawl you've ever heard, Elizabeth Cook was never really going to sing anything other than country and western, something she does exceptionally well.

Welder is Cook's fifth album, and the title comes from the trade that her father learned whilst in prison for running moonshine, you couldn't really have a more C&W background than that.  For those that cannot stand C&W, yes I'm afraid Welder is full of those twangy guitar sounds and bluesy style lyrics, but Cook's voice is wonderful, the lyrics sharp and heartfelt and the songs well written and interesting.

Welder contains many aspects of Cook's life, there is the fun and easy humour of the Southern rap style Camino, some advice on drinking before sex in Yes To Booty, and then just when you think Welder is full of lightweight frippery along comes the desperately sad lyrics of Heroin Addict Sister and its tale of dismal drug use and life spiralling out of comfort and control.

Cook's high and clear voice soars above the steel guitars on the moving Mama's Funeral, then she shows her versatility by moving into an almost comedy song routine for the George Bush inspired Snake In The Bed.

Welder contains 14 tracks, with four of those being covers (please forgive my lack of knowledge of the C&W scene if I've cocked this up), Frankie Miller's Blackland Farmer, Hem's Not California, and two tracks by Tim Carroll, who also plays on the album, Til Then (which is glorious, haunting and ethereal and possibly the best track on the album, certainly the best cover) and Follow You Like Smoke. On the cover versions and her own songs, Cook switches easily from the more traditional C&W style to more bluesy songs and ballads.

A great voice, incisive and bittersweet lyrics, some outright laughs ("and now I have my hands in his mullet" from Camino), all in all a strong and entertaining album from a hugely underrated country and western singer, if you like a bit of Southern twang and songs of the prairies, don't miss out on this.

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