Who says lightning doesn’t strike twice? In Albany, it’s bound to happen.
Last November, the vivacious Elizabeth Cook wowed a Monday night audience of fervent country and roots music fans with her brilliant mix of originals and choice covers. Last Wednesday night, she brought the energy, endearing banter and must-hear stories back again in dynamic set of 23 songs taped for a future broadcast on WAMC-FM.
Opening with the observational “Times Are Tough in Rock and Roll” from 2007’s “Balls,” an acoustic-toting Cook along with her husband, superb electric guitarist Tim Carroll and upright bassist Bones Hillman from Australia had the crowd engaged. “Don’t Go Borrowing Trouble,” a sultry vocal performance followed, with Carroll channeling Dave Edmunds and Buck Owens on some tasty playing. A quartet of songs from 2010’s acclaimed “Welder” album – “All the Time,” “Girlfriend Tonight,” “El Camino” and the mesmerizing tale of unconditional love in “Heroin Addict Sister” – left many exclaiming, “Wow!” It’s no wonder Cook has played the Grand Ole Opry more than 300 times since 2000.
Recalling her unique family background and an early affinity for music, Cook tapped into some vintage gospel. “Hear Jerusalem Calling” featured three-part harmonies set to a Johnny Cash-style rhythm, while “Keep Your Hand on the Power of God” wrapped the audience into an awesome melody of hope. Moving up in her chronology, Cook recalled her early fight for songwriting autonomy in the tough questions asked of her idol in “Dolly,” offered up a candid back story of loss before a vivid “Mama’s Funeral,” and delivered an achingly sweet “I’m Beginning to Forget”, a modern classic written by her late mother, Joyce.
Tim Carroll got the spotlight for a pair of songs, riding the fretboard on a breakneck “T-G-V” and stepping back on a ruminative “Till Then”, the latter with splendid electric guitar lines weaving between perfect harmonies by Cook. Charlie Louvin, a Cook favorite, got his due with a rousing “Cash on the Barrelhead,” Cook’s smile radiating across the studio as she sang the lyrics by her late friend and mentor.
Staving off the residual effects of hay fever, Cook, energized by the crowd, closed out the night with the Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning” (she truly has made this song her own), her assertive original “Sometimes It Takes Balls to Be a Woman” and Carroll’s sublime “If I Could.”
Kudos to The Linda for booking Elizabeth Cook, and let’s hope she and her talented band return again soon -how about on a Saturday night?
Review by Fred Rudofsky
Michael Eck’s review @ The Times Union
Excerpt from Michael Hochanadel’s review at The Daily Gazette: “When she mourned her mother’s passing in ‘Mama’s Funeral,’ she was hillbilly-poignant for real. And apart from the obvious musical gifts and vocal power on display, it was her sense of reality that gave her songs and singing such stirring strength.”