Buzz: Blood-stirring: Cook's latest anything but static
After seeing him open for blues legends B.B. King and Robert Cray, fans might not think that local all-star guitarist Eli Cook would have a pop-rock record up his sleeve. But they'd be wrong. Even more surprising, this tendency, according to Cook, has been there all along.
"I've always taken things from all sorts of music," says the 23-year-old musician. His previous release bears this out – 2007's ElectricHolyFireWater was a Mississippi-meets-Seattle fusion of the blues for which he's best known for and the 90's grunge on which he grew up.
"These songs," he says, "lended themselves to more of a pop, R&B studio production quality– things that are harder to do live with a band."
The album, Static in the Blood, reveals glimpses of a Cook that may be foreign to local listeners initially drawn in by his deep bluesy drawl and hard-rock affectations. While he says he's always working in the shadows of blues greats like Mississippi John Hurt or Stevie Ray Vaughan, this seventeen-song release also alludes to contemporary hip-hop and singer-songwriter pop-rock. What's more, by taking his time in the studio, Cook was also able to take the reins creatively– he plays most of the instruments himself.
"A lot of it was written before, and it didn't seem to fit into the solo, blues, acoustic live format– but it also didn't fit into the rock band thing either," he says. "It's one of the few times that I've finished a record and been able to listen to it – it doesn't sound like anything I'd usually perform live."
But perform it he will, as a soloist before he embarks on a mini-national tour at the end of October. And although he refers to artists as diverse as Jay-Z and the Beatles when describing his new sound, Cook is confident that this direction is as blues-friendly as previous endeavors.
"People tend to want to label things; and, really, when it comes to the music, you're going to hear the blues influence in all of my music," he says confidently. "Whether its pop, solo, singer-songwriter or pseudo-metal, you're still going to hear all those influences because it's who I am."