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Elizabeth Cook (from the album Balls available on Thirty Tigers Records) (By Lee Zimmerman)
With the 15th anniversary reissue of Elizabeth Cook’s seminal solo album Balls, those that missed it the first time have another opportunity to explore the auspicious origins of a career that’s been, by turns, decisive, defiant, and consistently unpredictable. Venting her frustration about an industry that failed to give proper credence to unserved artists, and her own struggle to get the respect she deserved, it put her on a path to making music.
She had seen some success before — a recording contract with Atlantic Records that soon went sour and a publishing deal that brought her some notoriety in songwriting circles — but it was Balls that brought her the greater acclaim. ‘Times are tough in rock and roll’ she declares on the song of the same name, sharing her sentiments in no uncertain terms. Other songs — the swaying yet insistent “Don’t Go Borrowing Trouble”, the driving and determined “Sometimes It Takes Balls To Be A Woman”, the strikingly assertive “He Got No Heart”, and the twangy Honky Tonk of “Gonna Be” all find her towing the line between Country conformity and unabashed insurgence, while also showing reverence and respect for such profound predecessors as Tammy, Loretta and Dolly. She also takes time for reflection, as in the emotional duet she shares with Bobby Bare Jr. “Rest Your Weary Mind”, the sweet sentiment of “Mama’s Prayers”, a tender remake of the Velvet Underground’s enduring ballad “Sunday Morning”, the quietly optimistic “Always Tomorrow”, and the heartfelt “Down Girl”, the latter of which offers vocal contributions from Nanci Griffith and the album’s producer, Rodney Crowell.
Some may argue that it was Crowell’s oversight of the album that helped bring it the prominence it ultimately attained, but that’s an unjustified assumption. Elizabeth Cook made her mark all on her own. Indeed, she would go on to find greater acclaim and explore wider musical terrain as well, sourcing sounds that were both spirited and spiritual. Nevertheless, it took Balls to put it all in play.
(By Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Elizabeth Cook from AMAZON
For more information and purchase options, please visit Elizabeth Cook website
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