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Hey Ya'll - Elizabeth Cook
Hey Ya'll - Elizabeth Cook
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Reviewed by Matt Bjorke

What would you do if you were trained from the time you were a little kid to become a country singer? Elizabeth Cook decided to throw it all away while she received a college degree and secured a job at the accounting firm Price Waterhouse and Nashville office. After a while there, Elizabeth was invariably drawn back to the stage, this time as someone who knew who she was and what she wanted.

Originally signed in 2000 to Atlantic Nashville Records, Elizabeth was one of five artists (Tracy Lawrence, John Michael Montgomery and South Sixty-Five being the others) who were kept after a merger with Warner Brothers Nashville. What made Jim Ed Norman (the president of Warner Brothers Nashville) stand up and take notice of Elizabeth was the unique, for the current trends anyway, style which she carried herself.

Grand Old Opry manager Pete Fisher noticed Elizabeth's talent as well and asked her to perform on the show. The Opry's goal was to get some new talent excited to be a part of "the Mother Church" of country music, and Elizabeth was phase two of that goal with Brad Paisley being the first. Two years and over 100 Opry appearances later and Elizabeth is finally seeing her debut album get released by Warner Brothers.

What a fine album it is too. From the opening track, "Stupid Things," to the closing ode to her hometown in "Ocala," Elizabeth has crafted quite possibly the finest debut album by a female artist in many years. Claiming Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette among her influences, Elizabeth certainly should make them proud for she is one heck of a "girl singer."

On "Stupid Things," Elizabeth, who wrote all but one track, sings a quasi-contemporary song about the crazy things love does to a person. Elizabeth's vocals, if one asked me to compare them, sound like a cross between Pam Tillis and like minded Kelly Willis. It should be noted that this short two minute song is Elizabeth's first single.

"Rainbows At Midnight" is a mandolin and dobro packed mid-tempo waltz which is similar in theme to Carolyn Dawn Johnson's "Georgia." With the wonderful instrumentation and verses that are traditional based, Elizabeth could very well find herself with a hit single with this track.

Remember when I said that Elizabeth was raised to be a country singer? Well much like Loretta, Elizabeth often writes about herself and her family. On "Mama You Wanted to Be a Singer Too," Elizabeth is singing about seeing the look in her mom's eyes over what stars have and wishing she would've had that lifestyle. This song is an amazing tribute to Elizabeth's love for her mother and a nice traditional ballad as well.

On "Dolly" Elizabeth theoretically asks Dolly if she experienced the same troubles starting out as Elizabeth has experienced, like being told to sing a certain way or sing other writers songs. Wearing her heart on her sleeve, Elizabeth says she only wants to sing her way and utterly refuses to sing any other way, just like Dolly and Loretta did.

"I'm Not Lisa" is the one song that Elizabeth didn't write. Written by the legendary songstress Jessi Colter, this song is given a reworked sound reminiscent of Roy Orbison. Still as traditional sounding as a country song can get, the theme of this track is about a girl who is getting tired of her man calling her Lisa when her name is Julie. This track was one of Elizabeth's Opry favorites.

"Everyday Sunshine" is a wonderful mid-tempo song about a girl who just wants to see her man's smile and love, even if things are hard. Next to "Stupid Things," this is the most "radio friendly" track on the album so I can see Elizabeth releasing this one as the second single.

"Don't Bother Me" features Opry legend Bill Anderson and is slow paced ballad about not wanting to be bothered while at the bar. Any woman who's typically sitting at the bar drinking a spirit typically doesn't want to be bothered yet she invariably is asked if she's available. I can see where a lot of ladies could relate to this track

With this album, Elizabeth Cook has crafted one of the better records to come out in 2002, debut or otherwise. As a testament to her talents, she had guest such as Whisperin' Bill, The Whites, some Opry band members and Darrell Scott appear on the album. I'd suggest you get this one as soon as you can, especially if you are a traditional country music fan.

Album cover, used with permission of Warner Nashville.


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