Elizabeth Cook Welder (31 Tigers Records)

Singer/songwriter Elizabeth Cook’s fifth album showcases a lot of the stellar classic-style country that today’s “Americana” artists prize. But this is also an inventive, varied collection where the mood and the arrangements definitely veer way in and far out of traditional country.
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Singer/songwriter Elizabeth Cook’s fifth album showcases a lot of the stellar classic-style country that today’s “Americana” artists prize. But this is also an inventive, varied collection where the mood and the arrangements definitely veer way in and far out of traditional country. On the unassailably credible Americana side, the songs “All the Time,” “Not California” and “I’ll Never Know” include backing vocals by Buddy Miller, Rodney Crowell and Dwight Yoakam, respectively. But Don Was, who produced the album, always thinks outside the box at least a bit. So Track 1, “All the Time,” for example, sounds like a tailor-made Buddy Miller song, but there’s some wigged-out sitar snake-charmer music running through it.

Cook has a great sense of humor, too: Her song “El Camino” is a great '70s send-up, with dozens of spot-on period references in the lyrics and music. “Yes to Booty” is a raucous, modern-day take on Loretta Lynn’s “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” featuring a chorus of men shouting the lines “no to beer” or “yes to booty” (but sounding drunk either way). There are loads of superbly clever moments on Welder and some desperately sad ones, too, such as the song “Heroin Addict Sister.” I picked up this album because I was intrigued by the combination of producer and guest artists, but now I’m also hooked on Cook.

Must Play: "All the Time"

Producer: Don Was. Engineer: Krish Sharma. Studios: House of Blues (Nashville), Karma East (Hollywood). Additional engineering: Tom Spaulding/Strange Magic Studios (Nashville). Mastering: Jim DeMain/Yes Master (Nashville).