Cook is an increasingly intriguing and surprising artist.
Andrew Mueller 2010
The fifth album by Florida-born Nashville denizen Cook is apparently named after the profession pursued by her father – but she has done a pretty good job herself, here, of rendering disparate elements into something tough and just slightly sparkly. Cook’s old-school country credentials are, after more than 300 Grand Ole Opry appearances, beyond argument; but the cast she has assembled around her is drawn from all points on the modern country spectrum, and beyond.
Don Was produces, Nashville alt-country mainstay (and Cook’s husband) Tim Carroll plays guitar, backing vocals are provided by Buddy Miller, Rodney Crowell and Dwight Yoakam, and one member of her band possesses possibly the most incongruous CV ever boasted by a musician on a country record – Bones Hillman, previously better known as the bass player in Midnight Oil.
It’s not surprising – and not at all bad – that the album created by the aforelisted collaborators is so riotously diverse. Cook pours herself into first-person confessionals skilfully reined in just short of oversharing mawkishness (Heroin Addict Sister, Mama’s Funeral). She brings a commendably light touch to bear on the wry ballads and upbeat swingers which suggest the influence of former producer Crowell (I’m Beginning to Forget, I’ll Never Know). She gently summons the ghost of Tammy Wynette on the domestic melodrama Girlfriend Tonight. And she’s a latter-day Loretta Lynn on straightforwardly lubricious bar-room rattlers (Yes to Booty, Snake in the Bed).
Not all of the many feats attempted by Cook come off. The blustering boogie of Rock N Roll Man was doubtless great fun to play in the studio, but probably should have stayed there, and the half-rapped El Camino is closer to Shania Twain than is entirely comfortable. However, these are forgivable weaknesses in a generally robust collection by an increasingly intriguing and surprising artist.