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americanaUK

Canada strikes again

Western Canadian recluse Kevin John Cook delivers his second album, encompassing a plethora of tasty roots and Americana styles along the way. His natural weather worn country-edged blues and grizzled croon makes a winning formula on the likes of "Too good to be true", which drifts along with sweet Knopfler-esque guitar lines, and also the grittier pounding blues of "Early warning".

Languid and muted Miles Davis-style trumpet caresses the gorgeous ragged soul of "In the middle of the night" with subtle good feeling, while "Lazy gringo" continues to add subtle jazzy flavour with its double bass and trumpet grooving alongside a particularly Lloyd Cole-esque tune and delivery. Elsewhere the bar room country blues of "Dog on dog" and also the title track, with its shades of gospel, showcases a weightier and grittier side of his talents.

Cook's ruminations of love, tested friendship and survival are delivered in impressive style on this hugely enjoyable record, which makes his sound and his songs pleasingly difficult to pigeon-hole, or indeed second guess. A triumph

no depression

Kevin John Cook lives in a cabin in the woods. The logical assumption is that such an existence would divorce one from many of the troubles those of us in less secluded circumstances face. Not so. On his latest release,Shake Your Faith, Cook tackles the torment, confusion, and uncertainty we all feel about our interactions with others. Relationships govern the record from the start, as in the opening track's reflection on the spell cast by the mysterious Rena ("Too Good to be True"). But Cook is no self-absorbed whiner, he takes personal relationships into a broader set of narratives in songs like ("Cold as they Come"), a tale of a down-and-out waitress never to recover from her trials. He also meanders further into existential concerns in songs like ("Yellow Belly") and ("Early Warning").

If you're like me, though, and lyrics pass you by the first, second, twelfth time around, you might be more inclined to focus on the stylistic variety of "Shake Your Faith". Cook seems to be a bluesman at heart, but he interrupts the more conventional realizations of the genre (for example, the title track) with rootsy acoustic arrangements ("Yellow Belly") and country-inflected rock("Dog on Dog"). Horns offer a slight mariachi tinge to ("Turquoise Sky"), and make another appearance on the lazy-summer-night tune ("IN the Middle of the Night"), a nice contrast to its warm backing vocals.

The culmination of the record's overall warmth, Cook's quiet, intense voice, and the laid-back delivery of the band might be ("Backslider"), a highlight of the record for me.

Cook is joined by Duke Paetz on drums and Thom Golub on bass; Terry Morrison and Dale Ladoucer's backing vocals are showcased in careful production and mastering by Scott Franchuk and Miles Wilkinson, respectively. If you're looking for a new roots record that hits all of the influential genres -folk,blues,country - this album is for you.

Cook works out of Alberta and tours through the region occasionally. Like many of his contemporaries, he's no stranger to the rural hotel bars that pepper Western Canada, offering his compositions to a diverse crowd of labourers and bikers. He's got a few shows coming up in Alberta and B.C. in May; in the meantime ,you can listen to and buy ("Shake Your Faith") on his website

penguin eggs

 

Another product of rural Alberta, country blues artist Kevin Cook seems to relax and enjoy the flavour and feeling of laid-back hominess on his latest disc. Joby Baker, who's helmed the console for Cowboy Junkies, Outlaw Social and the Bills, contributes various instruments to this fairly bare-bones affair, with Kory Burns and Jay Cundal on bass and drums and contributions from Cam Neufeld on harmonica and a few guitar guest spots from Lester Quitzau.

The rest is all Cook, whose sinuous voice wraps around his homespun lyrics. The result is a disc to be played with a glass of wine, late at night, perhaps nodding in front of a warm fire inside a cabin in the woods on a cold winter's evening, snug in a soft, thick, flannel shirt. It has that kind of dreamy feeling to it. "Lookin' for a peaceful place." As pleasant a disc as you're likely to come across.

-by Barry Hammond

"Atmosphere and vibe are paramount and deeply ingrained in Cook's sound, with just the right amount of spookiness conjured up to serve the proceedings. From song to song one gets the sense of hearing true artistry and conviction"

Dean Gordon-Smith            Vernon Morning Star

 

"Kevin was simply mesmerizing last night. No other Canadian bluesman is comparable. He's in a class all by himself."

Rusty Reed             Blues legend

 

"A jewel of a record. Cook is an excellent guitar player."

Roots Town Music             Belgium

 

"Kevin Cook is a highly respected Alberta singer/songwriter. His songs reflect on themes of personal importance: relationships, raising children, mid-life issues and the environment. His latest album "Calahoo" finds him fusing his acoustic folk with a more electric vibe, but the songs and stories remain intimite and revealing."

CBC Radio 2

 

edmonton journal

"Cook is an experienced tunesmith with a gift for finding the right words, and his vocal chords have a soft, dusty tinge that is perfectly in keeping with the rural inspiration of his folk-blues themes. Cook's art deserves attention far beyond the local roots music scene."

face it
shake your faith