By SCOTT CUNNINGHAM // "Exodus of Venus" is a lyrical masterpiece
In June Elizabeth Cook released her first album in six years, "Exodus of Venus". Before you run off and listen to it, though, track down the lyrics first and read through them a couple of times.
What you will discover are words so meaningful, reflective, and piercing that you could be forgiven for thinking she is a poet rather than a songwriter.
"Exodus of Venus" is a major departure from Cook's previous work, which makes sense given the well-documented upheaval she's faced in her personal life over the past few years.
Because the album departs so much from her prior material, I asked her if she had been surprised by any of the reaction to the release.
"I really didn't know what to expect, so there's no way I could have been surprised. I knew that the album was markedly different musically than anything I had done before."
To her credit, the album isn't a retelling of her personal travails. Rather, it is a reflection of her growth as an artist and as an individual.
Indeed, the album title portends this growth, describing Cook's newfound sense of place in her world.
Nowhere is this more evident than on the title track, which Cook describes as a story about "embracing love, accpeting it and its imperfections."
For the album Cook also embraced a new style of writing.
"I have always written simultaneously, the music and the lyrics at the same time, but I was doing both," she says.
Cook enlisted Dexter Green to produce "Exodus of Venus", a role that also included that of co-writer.
"I was writing a lot of the album with Dexter and he was driving it as far as what it sounded like musically."
Green developed melodies on the guitar that allowed words to percolate from within Cook during the process.
"Sounds make certain lyrics to me. Combing through my journals and hearing the music he was bringing just brought out certain lines and rhymes that came together in more of a poetic than a direct sense.
"So, this was a chance to just hone in on the lyrical part and sing along to the melodies he was playing."
The approach clearly worked, as "Exodus of Venus" is Cook's strongest work to date, a lyrical masterpiece that ranks as one of the top alt-country releases of 2016.
ON TOUR: Elizabeth Cook appears at the Aladdin Theater Tuesday Oct. 4, 2017. Doors 7:00PM. Tickets are still available as of this writing.