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Elizabeth Cook

Welder – 2010 (31 Tigers)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by Elizabeth Cook

On her latest release (the title is a nod to her father), Elizabeth Cook is as full of sass and vinegar as ever, and her hick valley-girl recitation El Camino ("If I wake up married, I'll have to annul it/Right now my hands are in his mullet"), the marital advice she offers up in Yes to Booty and the wry portrait painted by Rock n Roll Man will likely end up being the record's popular favorites, and for good reason.

But other songs may turn out to be more enduring: Mama's Funeral is an unmistakably personal, moving tribute, while Heroin Addict Sister, whether or not it's personal, has the ring of experience to it. At times, the twang in Cook's voice seems to have grown even thicker, if that's possible, and her songwriting way with a country song - the steamy ballad Girlfriend Tonight (the Carol Lee Singers crooning along adds the perfect touch), the hard shuffle I'll Never Know (featuring Dwight Yoakam on harmonies) - remains intact. Her songs are supplemented nicely by a pair of well-chosen covers (Frankie Miller's classic Blackland Farmer and a version of Hem's Not California that ups the country quotient), along with a couple of contributions from husband Tim Carroll and a steel- and slip-note-filled piece of pain, I'm Beginning to Forget, from her mother's pen. She's already made a string of good country records, but for Elizabeth Cook, "Welder" represents a quantum leap forward.