Live: Elizabeth Cook at the Palms Playhouse
A chalkboard at the door promised “Old time country and Americana,” and any passerby curious enough to venture down the long hallway and up the old wooden stairs into the main room of the intimate Palms Playhouse would have found just that during Elizabeth Cook’s 90-minute Friday night set.
Beginning with “Today I Started Loving You Again” and encoring with Dolly Parton’s “My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy,” there was no mistaking Cook’s affection for classic country music. The Americana element came largely thanks to rocker husband Tim Carroll, who layered in some intriguingly offbeat electric guitar work and sang two songs of his own. Usual stand-up bassist Bones Hillman didn’t accompany them on this particular trip.
The set was comprised mostly of songs from Cook’s recent indie releases Balls and Welder, which have ironically earned her all the attention and acclaim that eluded her during what should have been a high-profile stint on Warner Bros. Nashville. (Hey Y’all, the product of that partnership, deserved a better fate.) Now that she has settled into an earthier groove with the help of Don Was and Rodney Crowell, Cook half-laughs at the idea that Big Nashville might not be done with her yet: Faith Hill is looking at “Girlfriend Tonight” for her next project, and CMT will soon be airing the Kristin Barlowe-directed music video for “All the Time.”
Cook’s star is on the rise, and it’s not difficult to see why. Her writing is only getting sharper, with “Heroin Addict Sister,” “Mama’s Funeral,” and “El Camino” being among the very best she’s ever done. Even as she covers Hem and The Velvet Underground on her albums, her live show remains a decidedly down-home affair: Songs are introduced with anecdotes and ended with smiling “thank you’s.” Cook pays respects to Merle, Dolly, Loretta, the Louvin Brothers, Jessi Colter, Frankie Miller, and mama. She sounds just as fine as she does on the records, and speaks with an even thicker accent. At some point, she’ll probably swap her boots for tap shoes and show you some clogging. At her merchandise table, you’ll find branded potholders for sale.
Clogging and potholders and the Louvin Brothers? Basically, her show seems modeled after a vintage Opry broadcast. Well played, Ms. Cook. That’s definitely “old time country.”
“Today I Started Loving You Again”
“Don’t Go Borrowin’ Trouble”
“He Got No Heart”
“Yes to Booty”
“I’m Beginning to Forget”
“Rock N Roll Man”
“All the Time”
“Cash on the Barrelhead”
“I’m Not Lisa”
“Times Are Tough in Rock N Roll”
“Heroin Addict Sister”
“TGV” (Tim Carroll)
“Til Then” (Tim Carroll)
“Sometimes It Takes Balls to Be a Woman”
“If I Could”
“My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy” (encore)
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