A Sailing event on 2016-08-03 20:00:00
Elizabeth Cook didnt quite know what she was doing. But she knew therewere songs, and they had to get out. Six even years since her critically acclaimedWelder, as well as much personal tumult, there were songs that needed to be born.If anything, (Exodus) is a pledge of allegiance for the bad girls and theHomecoming Queens who got caught in a scandal. Its a bill of rights, and atestimony for those good girls who got away with more than they should have.Im slow, and getting slower, laughs the lanky blond, unapologetically. Imtaking my time, really drilling down. There were nine versions of Methadone Blues.Ive never done that before. I love that entrenchment and dedication and I wasntgoing to do any less than what needed to be done.From Dexter Green's (also the album's producer) opening electric guitar,equal parts foreboding and fraught, Exodus of Venus hurls a churlish witness toerotic upheaval and the drives that subsume our best notions. Exodus is anexhortation of sexual surrender that pushes past the brink of reason.For fans of the Florida-bornnraised Cook, a Grand Ole Opry regular,SiriusXM Outlaw Country hostess and David Letterman favorite, Exodus of Venuswill be something of a shock. If she maintains the tang of her drawl, what emerges beyond Cooks always vibrant and vivid sense of detail is a song cycle soaked inturpentine, musk and honey.From the sweltering tumble of B-3 on the funky, shuffling Methadone Bluesto the elegiac dignity of Tabitha Tuders Mama and the Velvet Underground on firebristle of Brokedown in London on the M25, Cooks shouldering a deeper passionfor the state of living today and the crashing into the wall reality we all go through.If in the past Cook relied on wit and a certain dogpatch charm, Venus commands araw knuckled truth thats even more searing.There hasnt been a lot to laugh about, confesses the effervescentsongwriter who once penned It Takes Balls To Be A Woman with equal parts DollyParton pluck and Loretta Lynn brio. Things have been heavy and dark, and I feelreally different. I aspire to be more than clever or dark or poignant, but to be honest.I want that to supersede everything.Emotionally, mentally, physically its all been tested, she continues, and itset me up straight. It was hard, but its a good thing. Really hard lessons inresilience… All of it is in the record.That resilience rises like steam from the narcotic Dyin, as Cook professesher by any means necessary strength, Gonna be a diamond, gonna make hay/ If youdont like it, gonna do it anyway/ Gonna put on the pistols, gonna cause a scene/Gonna goddamn save the queen… Flowing from there to the attenuated starklyhaunted Evacuation, a slow build of defiance that eschews the easy for holdingonto ones roots and casting a parallel with New Orleans own spirit that mines adeep desire to live, die and celebrate where ones essence lies.During the years when family was dying and houses were burning down andI was in divorce court and David Letterman was calling and doing shows withAnthony Bourdain, the whiplash was almost too much, Cook admits. To keep upwith all this great stuff, while Id been sheltered for such a long time from tragedy, ittransforms you. It really does.Cook emerged a tougher, wiser woman. If her years as a rough stock MinniePearl, part comedienne, part chronicler of life beyond the urban hipeoisie, had casther first glass of champagne ebullience as a sparkling presence of hillbillyauthenticity, Exodus of Venus suggests a woman tapping into the force of her truepower. Frank, stumbling, angry, exhausted, triumphant, she owns the ragged edges,the torn seams and worn thin places.Joined by hard country soul singer Patty Loveless on Straight Jacket Love,she catcalls a frantic surrender, On and off the wagon/Lighting fire togrease/Knives are made for stabbing/Arms are made for peace… as the CMAFemale Vocalist maintains perfect mountain harmony. I blind emailed hermanagement, fingers crossed because I heard her voice all over this record thensent her two or three songs, saying, This is my record. If you hear anythingShe honed right in on Straight Jacket Love. Maybe it felt like some real darkAppalachian kind of thing. She has such authentic texture and power when shesings. She shows me what Im trying to doNot that Cook needs any teaching. A kid singer in her late-in-life parentscountry music aspirations, she learned bar life early and getting by with a prettysmile and a good line. Her mother diagnosed with uterine cancer at 42 whilepregnant with Elizabeth and raging alcoholic Daddy had big plans.Im the miracle child sent to heal my father, and I was bewildered by that. Iwas a princess, but the king was a monster. And if things werent okay, I was failing.After years of getting by on charm, with dysfunction part of the familysfunctionality, it all came apart in Cooks hands. But in the wreckage of death anddivorce, Cook found liberation and emancipation.Im not trying to be the good girl anymore, and that brought some joy to allof it. I almost care more or different, she explains. These songs are morepoignant. Theyre honest, and all about compassion or grace. For myself, and from aplace of experience. Not that any of it was wrong, but I look back and have pride forall that happened and what Ive survived.On Cutting Diamonds, Cook tosses the declaration She has no line onpolished pearls/Those are for the proper girls… like confetti. Then on thekicknsnarenpiano roll underscored Orange Blossom Trail, she kicks up a bit ofsavory dust, with the celebratory toast, Players talk while Thieves set sail/Its thefragrant air of the underbelly/ On the Orange Blossom TrailLiving on the shady side, theres a comfort level I have in that kind ofenvironment, Cook offers. Thats where the reckless or the brave both say, Yeah,why not? Im doing what Im supposed to do (for me, writing these songs) is anecessity. Its the only power, the only tool, the only weapon I have.Listen! Were going from Little Feat to REM, then put Appalachianharmonies on it. Its all funky grooves with dark guitars, burning guitars. Peoplewere tweeting me, Are you keeping it country? And the truth is: No, Im keeping itreal. Not to a genre, but to what these songs are.Its an imperfect balancing act: a lesson in compassion and grace andtolerance. You know, all these songs are either requiring it or exhibiting it.Cook laughs as she says this, knowing full well its in banging into thefurniture and stumbling down the halls that one learns to walk through the dark.Get out there and make mistakes and dont apologize! Im not ashamed.This happened and Ill tell you all about it.
at The Castle Theatre 209 E. Washington Street, Unit One Bloomington, United States