Eli Cook Ace, Jack & King
Blues lovers, get ready to have your socks knocked off. Blues rock guitarist Eli Cook has surpassed even the highest expectations on his latest album Ace, Jack and King. With all the cards on the table, Cook takes on acoustic bits, blues rock, and everything in between. The album is evenly split between originals and covers, indistinguishable to listeners who are not familiar with blues greats Skip James, Charles Brown and Rev. Gary Davis.
Ace, Jack and King starts out with one of Cook’s originals, “Deathrattle.” Grungy, gritty, and rhythm-driven, the heavily blues-rock piece is a weighty start to the album, making an impressive statement. Harmonica interludes breathe life and levity into the otherwise overly intense song. “Better Man,” another original track that might be most aptly described as soul boogie, boasts a wide selection of instrumentalists, including slide guitars and even clapping hands. “Please Please,” a slow, romantic piece, evokes images of a country summer, sultry and simple. Drawing attention to and truly showcasing Cook’s impressive baritone, the song is overwhelming in its sparseness. “Snake Charm” is the odd man out in this collection of masterpieces. Musically successful in its own way, the only connection it really demonstrates to this particular environment is the occasional harmonica appearance.
The star of the show is without a doubt Cook’s take on Nick Drake’s “Black-eyed Dog.” A melancholic song about depression and its hold on Drake, it was written soon before the English singer-songwriter’s suicide around three decades ago. A fresh, creative and mesmerizing take on the song, it seems to pay homage to Nick Drake and his musical and almost spiritual legacy. Cook uses his voice to the utmost effect, and supports the vocals with dexterous and virtuosic finger work on the guitar, his sole accompaniment.
Almost every track on this album could be the subject of its own rave review, which goes to show that the praise belongs to Cook and his raw talent. True tribute to blues greats and to the music itself, Ace, Jack and King is Cook’s best offering yet and seeing him go all in is a joy to the listener.
Key Tracks: Please Please, Catfish Blues, Black Eyed Dog
Nivedita Gunturi – Muzikreviews.com Contributor
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