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Eli Cook

Miss Blues' Child

(Valley; US: 5 Jun 2007; UK: Available as import)

On his first solo album, Miss Blues’ Child, Eli Cook pulls off impressive, rattle-and-clang bluesmanship and an astoundingly full sound.  The feat is made doubly remarkable considering that it’s only Cook and banjo-player Patrick McCrowell pulling and picking the strings.  At 20 years of age, the Virginia native is the latest in a long line of skinny, blonde white boys with surprisingly deep, soulful, baritone voices, although Cook’s is much deeper and more garbled than Jonny Lang.  The a capella “Grinnin’ In Your Face” woefully offsets Cook’s voice, the slurring end result of which mimics the intro to “John the Revelator” without the benefit of having a Delta blues force come in and kick thine heathen ass.  Listening to Cook’s aged, raspy growl, it’s hard to tell whether his vocal affectation is put on for show or if he really did meet up with the same crossroads demon as Robert Johnson.  Speak of the devil himself, Cook kicks off the album with a mean version of the legendary bluesman’s “Terraplane Blues”.  That’s where Cook finds his redemption.  Unexpectedly modern touches pop up on the album, a mix of old classics recovered and Eli Cook’s own completely original material.  There’s a Tom Waits-esque take on the traditional tune, “Irene”, and on his own original composition, “Trick Bag”, steel twangs from beneath his fingers with faint additions of guitar harmonics and lower-register rumblings.  Strictly as a blues guitar album, Miss Blues’ Child is beyond reproach.  Eli Cook nails old school, traditional blues style in the vein of John Lee Hooker in a flawlessly flawed sort of way.

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Lana Cooper has written various reviews and features for PopMatters since 2006. She's also written news stories for EDGE Media, a nationwide network devoted to LGBT news and issues. In 2013, she wrote her first novel, Bad Taste In Men, described as one part chick lit for tomboys and one part Freaks and Geeks for kids who came of age in the mid-'90s. She lives in Philadelphia and enjoys spending time with her family, reading comic books, and avoiding eye contact with strangers on public transportation. A graduate of Temple University, Cooper doesn't usually talk about herself in the first person, but makes an exception when writing an author bio.


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