Elizabeth Cook

Gospel Plow

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Continuing to go her own way on Gospel Plow, Elizabeth Cook is another artist who's too rock for country and too country for rock, although in the music business climate of 2012 she may be too country for country, too. As you might expect from the title of this mini-album, Gospel Plow is a record of sacred music, although it's marked by Cook's own inimitable mix of styles and features at least one track that will surprise almost any country fan, not matter how alt. The songs are mostly familiar, although the arrangements are anything but. This is not your grandma's kind of gospel music by any means. "If I Had My Way," a Blind Willie Johnson song that was a hit for Peter, Paul and Mary during the folk scare, is given a stark stomping arrangement featuring Bones Hillman's thumping acoustic bass, Tim Carroll's muted electric guitar, and Cook's wailing vocals. "Gospel Plow" is a cross of bluegrass and rock featuring Carroll's clanging Creedence-style guitar; "Hear Jerusalem Calling" sounds like Johnny Cash in a storefront honky tonk church; and Cook turns in a particularly soulful vocal on a dark, moody arrangement of "These Men of God." The oddest -- and in some sense the most sanctified -- track is a cover of Lou Reed's "Jesus," given a subtle, smoky reading that's halfway between the Velvet Underground and Gillian Welch.

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