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Keepin' It Country 

click to enlarge Elizabeth Cook
  • Elizabeth Cook

The female Dale Watson: As country goes, that's a pretty ringing endorsement, but it makes country singer Elizabeth Cook a bit nervous. For one, she's not as militant about the state of country music as Watson, whose "Country My Ass" invites the listener to "get pissed and get mad" about what passes for country.

"I would just say that the type of thing that I do currently does not fit comfortably into what the big companies are putting out," she says diplomatically from her Nashville home. "I'm at peace with that."

Still, that peace has come with some difficulties: Cook had a contract with Atlantic-Warner, but she and the label split in 2003 after the release of her debut, Hey Y'all. She says it was like trying to sell pastry in a butcher shop: "I was the soup of the day. I was heavily pursued, but didn't nobody seem to know quite what to do with me."

Now, she's signed to the indie label 31 Tigers, with a Rodney Crowell-produced record set for release in April. Things are looking up. Her new single, "Sometimes it Takes Balls to be a Woman," is being received well. Her voice is likened to Dolly Parton (she says she hopes to be that good someday), but her wise lyrics are more in the spirit of Tammy Wynette or Loretta Lynn.

"Sometimes seeing a little blonde-haired, Southern girl, it's not the first thing that comes to people's minds that I might actually have something to say," Cook says. "I'd love to continue to build that."

Elizabeth Cook opens for Dale Watson at Hideaway BBQ on New Year's Eve. The show starts at 9:30 p.m., and tickets are $25.

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