The weird thing about Amy Cook’s latest disc is how normal it sounds at first listen. Her lush, aching country-rock voice resembles that of many other female singers on the FM dial. The dozen tunes are of a conventional length and feature the same basic guitar, bass, drums, instrumentation one hears on many top-selling records. (Cook’s backed by such talented musicians as bassist Me’Shell N’Degeocello, guitarists David Garza and Chris Bruce, and drummer Jonathan Wilson.) But the more one hears, the stranger the songs sound.
It takes a unique talent for Lucinda Williams to expressly request you be the opening act on her tour, so it’s no surprise that Austin based Amy Cook deserves the attention. Her previous release was helmed by Alejandro Escovedo and for this one veteran producer Craig Street is aboard. Top notch session musicians including guitarist David Garza and Me’Shell N’Degeocello on bass along with a few namedropping guests such as Robert Plant and Patty Griffin help flesh out these eleven often moody, reflective tunes, making this her most accomplished album to date.
A decade of steady gigging has given Amy Cook a weathered, comfortable sound, and Summer Skin perfects it. The Austin songstress follows up the folk base of 2010 breakthrough Let the Light In by delving deeper into steel guitar laced pop. Opener "Waiting 4 the World 2 End" sets the pace at a gallop, bouncing and weaving through conversationally toned lyrics: "Laying in your bed/ listening to the Talking Heads/just waiting for the world to end." Cook just as easily caresses lush folk laments like the title track, which scales up and down the guitar fret highlighting Cook's leathery voice.