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Elizabeth Cook - Balls  
Album Review By: Penny Rondinella, CSO Staff Journalist 

Balls is Cook's third album and it sure took some of that and a whole lot of class to put out an album like this.

Produced by Rodney Crowell, Cook is an artist who is unafraid to be exactly who she is. The opening track "Times Are Tough In Rock 'N Roll" start off this refreshing album. I really liked hearing her voice because it's different and doesn't blend in with anyone else out there right now. Even though she is called by Nanci Griffith, "This generations Loretta Lynn," she has a awesome style of her own and makes it her own on this incredible album.

Cook's life has been a bit of a soap opera, in my opinion, but has come a long way. She's the youngest of eleven  half-brothers and sisters, grew up in Florida where her parents met as musicians, playing in local country bars. She says her father learned to play bass in prison while serving time for running moonshine. Her mom, a singer and mandolin player from the hills of West Virginia (another reason I love this girl - my family is from West Virginia) wrote Cook's first songs,  including one titled: "Does My Daddy Love The Bottle More Than Me." She also had Cook singing on stage at the age of 4 years old. You think that's amazing, get this, she had her own band at 9 and had a hit titled "Homework Blues." She performed throughout her school years and has perfected her artistry along the way. She states: "The way I sound and my musical references came from what I heard and learned as a child, I had this accent when I was 2 years old. It's not an apology or even an explanation: it's just what I am."

Don't be surprised when you see or hear her name along with these names: Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette. Cook's name belongs with all these ladies. She can write and sing with the best of them. She is the contemporary of these country music icons. From songs on the album like "Down Girl" to "Gonna Be," Cook clearly knows a woman's ups and downs. She graduated from Georgia Southern University in 1996 with dual degrees in Accounting and Computer Information Systems, accepted a job offer from Price Waterhouse's Nashville Office. But her love of music got the best of her and she signed a publishing deal within a year. She released a independent album Elizabeth Cook/The Blue Album in 2000 and landed a major record deal in 2002 with Hey Y'All. That album got abandoned in a corporate restructure, but Cook fought back with a independent release of This Side Of The Moon in 2004.

Which brings us back to her latest release titled Balls. Producer Crowell says, "In order to get this made, we all had to pull together and pitch in." and since I hear Cook brings out the best in people it wasn't that hard. Most of this album was performed live, there is very little over dubbing and no layering. To me it almost sounds like someone is turning the radio station dial between songs. That was my first thought when I heard it the first time. Nine of the eleven tracks are written or co-written by Cook and one written by Cook's husband songwriter Tim Carroll - “Always Tomorrow”.

Bobby Bare Jr. performs on the ballad "Rest Your Weary Mind On Me" with Cook. She does an amazingly awesome job on Lou Reed and John Cale's "Sunday Morning," my favorite on the album. Check out the song "Sometimes It Takes Balls To Be A Woman" and all the other well written and performed songs and see what you think. I believe a lot of woman are going to really like this one because it does take Balls to do some of the things we have to do in life to survive. Cook says she started to write the title song for the album as a joke and never thought she would perform it live, but when she did, it got a great response where ever she sang it. It's a great anthem for strong women everywhere. 

I love her attitude in her songs, the twang in her voice and all that comes across, but also the class act she portrays. She writes what she loves and dares to describe herself as "a girl with an affinity for vintage cocktail dresses but believes in baiting her own hook." A true artist that knows what she wants and has enough BALLS to share it with the rest of 
the world. 


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