"Finally. Apparently by accident, Warner Bros. signed and released an album from a by-God country music artist. Not an ACT, an artist. The difference is pretty obvious - Kenny Chesney:Act; Sara Evans: Act; Emmy Lou Harris, Marty Stuart, Dolly Parton: Artists. Add Elizabeth Cook to the Artist list. She wrote or co-wrote every song save the Jessie Colter cover of "I'm Not Lisa". She hired the cream of the gutsy session musicians, in particular guitarist Kenny Vaughan and steel guitarist Dan Dugmore. Their Bakersfield-meets-Liverpool-meets-Billy Sherrill intros, fills and hooks give the album some of it's charm. The rest is supplied by the clarity, honesty and power of Cook's voice. There's plenty of twang and just enough torch on the semi-salacious track "Demon" to make any criticism of having a fake "barefoot hillbilly schtick" moot.The guitars twangle and jangle, the vocals are crisp and melodious, the tracks sound fresh and "live". This is what's missing in Nashville, and why anyone would prefer to listen to "Mutt Lange's Science Project Part 4" is beyond me. Do yourself a favor - buy this record and hear how Country is supposed to sound."
Real country music from a talented young'un
Joe Sixpack -- Slipcue.com | ...in Middle America | 09/24/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although she kinda lays her aw shucks, down-home persona on a bit thick, this Nashville-based hillbilly rebel certainly made me sit up and pay attention... This album is a welcome throwback to the pop-savvy hick music of years gone by, twangy yet tightly crafted, and full of good-natured intelligence and a real sense of fun. "Hey Y'All" is an open challenge to the glitzy overproduction of today's Top 40 country. Cook's squeaky little voice draws swift comparison to Dolly Parton, a likening she eagerly welcomes, as heard on the clever tribute, "Dolly," which humorously details the sleazy come-ons and not-so-subtle harassment a country gal must endure en route to a record contract. Cook aligns herself with old-school hillbilly holdouts like Porter Wagoner and Melba Montgomery who stuck to their rural roots in the 1960s, even as the rest of the country world got slicker and slicker. There's a little hint of early '70s countrypolitan in Cook's work, particularly on tunes like the Lynn Anderson-styled "Everyday Sunshine" and the album's irresistible opener, "Stupid Things," but by today's standards Cook is practically a musical Luddite. She might not top the Billboard charts anytime soon, but folks who like their country music pure and simple might want to check this disc out. Keep your eyes on this gal!"
Best new traditional country singer on major label in YEARS
Peter Durward Harris | Leicester England | 09/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When a singer makes their debut on a major label (it's not her first album ever), comparisons with others are inevitable. Some compare her to Tammy, Loretta and Emmylou, but although I can hear echoes of each of them (as well as Barbara Fairchild and Iris DeMent) in Elizabeth, she doesn't really sound like any of the five, but somewhere in between all of them.This album entertains from beginning to end, beginning with Stupid things, the first single released to radio. All the songs were written or co-written by Elizabeth except I'm not Lisa, a brilliant cover of Jessi Colter's classic song.One of the songs provides an amusing look at her struggle to get the right deal. Titled Dolly, the question Elizabeth keeps asking is Oh, Dolly, did you go through this? Elizabeth once performed this with Dolly listening backstage, not knowing what Dolly would think of it - but Dolly approved.There are many other great songs here, but it is clear from this album and her own website that Elizabeth has the voice, looks, brains and personality required for success. With major labels starting to get interested in traditional country again, perhaps she has arrived at just the right time.There is no way that Elizabeth could follow Sara Evans or Lee Ann Womack down the crossover road - her voice twangs too much for that. She will succeed or fail on a much more traditional sound. Yes, it has a contemporary feel, but there is no hint of pop whatsoever.If you love traditional country music, you must buy this to prove to the major labels that it's worth their investment. If you don't, you only have yourself to blame if all you get from them is crossover music."
Oh, to be an audience of one
W. K. Aiken | One state, Two state, Red state, Blue state | 06/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Call me mushy (or Ishmael, if you wish), but I liked Jesse Colter's "I'm Not Lisa" when it was released a generation ago. My friends thought I was sappy (and worse), but it was always a fave.Imagine, then, the goosebumps I felt when I heard the first few familiar strains on Cut 5 of Elizabeth Cook's "Hey Y'All". I usually preview a purchase cold - no liner notes, no discography, just the music. I went from "Wow, this sounds like . . ." to "OMG, is it? . . ." to "Ho Man!" and then silence so I could listen. Brought tears to my eyes it did. EC's pure, lonesome sound brought a plaint and pain to the song even the original lacked. Even if this had been the only halfway decent cut, it still would have been worth it. But, guess what? There's a whole disc of great, original tunes crafted by a songstress who also wields an epitomal bluegrass voice.(Sidebar: Alison Krauss is good. Nice songs, good voice, but NOT bluegrass).Cook's high, woman-child tone can make you laugh with "Stupid Things" and "Dolly, Did You Go Through This?" and positively kill you with "Mama, You Wanted To Be A Singer Too" and, of course, cut 5.If you like the real McCoy - the honest "Down From The Mountain" sound of a true bluegrass vocal style, you'll like Elizabeth Cook."
Wow, she is GOOD! A rare feat in country music these days
C. Heinrich | Oyster Bay, NY USA | 01/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album is one of those left-field surprises that exceeds any hopes or expectations you might have for it. She's got it all--the voice, the lyrics, the arrangements, the spirit (and not to mention the looks)--to cut across the humdrum pit of modern country music. Her voice is being compared to Loretta and Dolly--which isn't unfair--but she reminds me a lot of Pam Tillis. Like Pam Tillis, she's country and twangy, but genuinely so and does not come across with any kind of pretense whatsoever. But don't think she's a substitute for Pam Tillis or anyone else; her uniqueness and presence really come across. She's the real deal! This album covers both humor and pathos, and none of it is stupid, trite, fluffy, or overproduced (i.e. she's nothing like Shania, thank goodness). But it's not heavy-handed, either. It's *slightly* reminiscent of late 70's Southern California country-rock, but it's definitely rootsy country. It covers love and romance, family ("Mama You Wanted To Be A Singer Too"), trying to keep it real in Nashville ("Dolly"), down home memories ("Ocala"), and survival ("God's Got A Plan For Me"). She also offers a powerful take on Jessie Colter's hit song "I'm Not Lisa" (an underrated singer/songwriter in her own right). If you're a country fan of any type (traditional or pop), then you won't be disappointed. This one is a standout!"