Album Reviews

Eli Cook

High-Dollar Gospel

Artist:     Eli Cook

Album:     High-Dollar Gospel

Label:     C.R. 8 Records

Release Date:     08.18.2017  


A blues singer, songwriter, guitarist and record producer, Eli Cook has been hailed as the best blues singer of his generation. His honest unique blend of contemporary and old-school styles guitar playing and songwriting combined with his raw, robust vocals have put him at the forefront of modern blues. On High-Dollar Gospel, Cook continues to impress with his outstanding playing on his slide Resophonic guitar, and his vocals style is drenched with feeling. The 11 tracks presented here are powerful, with gritty vocals and outstanding songwriting. Peter Spaar is on upright bass, Nathan Brown on drums, and Eli Cook on all other string instruments

Eli Cook explains his album title: “I was brainstorming ideas that would evoke the imagery of the American South. The phrase ‘high-dollar’ is an old one, and ‘gospel’ is the Southern church music that brought us Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and countless other iconic musicians. The two phrases together can have several connotations, but the one I think of is the feeling of disillusionment that seems to be more and more pervasive. I think a lot of young people feel a sense of apathy and a loss in direction, generally speaking. People need inspiration, and it seems like that is becoming harder to come by.”

“Trouble Maker” starts the service. From the first notes the full power of this acoustic album can be felt. Cook’s gravelly vocals are a perfect match to his slide on the resophonic guitar. With fun lyrics and a driving song form, with rhythm that makes you wanna dance, what more can you ask for?

Muddy Waters’ tune “Can’t Lose What You Never Had” is given a slow moody feeling that displays Cook’s powerful vocal range and control. Cook’s guitar solo is energetic and has a balance of chords and single line soloing with slide figures for extra expression. An electric distorted guitar provides a nice haunting backdrop of howling held notes.

“King of The Mountain” is a slide guitarist dream! A strong rhythmic guitar part that has the perfect balance of chords and slide work. The chorus is tremendous, a perfect tension release to the verse. This is Cook at his finest; killer vocals and heartfelt guitar work all underpinned with expertly written tunes.

Cook has captured lighting with his energetic acoustic driven album, High-Dollar Gospel. His robust singing and inventive guitar playing brings a sound to the blues catalog that keeps the tradition with a fresh-sounding twist, but make no mistake this is all blues emotion.

—Sylvannia Garutch

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