Eli Cooks new album takes us on a fascinating journey through the history of the Blues. The young Blues Master performs Skip James, Charles Brown, Reverend Gary Davis, and gives a nod to Nick Drake. His nine original compositions fit seamlessly into the vintage material. Cooks music is authentic, and the historical currents in its bloodstream are beautifully transfused.. He so deeply understands the nature of Country Blues that he brings it from its earliest rambles into its own, then artfully extends beyond, to the dazzling edges of the genre. With all the cards on the table Ace, Jack & King is a winning hand, dealt from a 12-Bar deck, sometimes spare and rudimentary, and other times volcanic when Cook launches musically to the far reaches of the Blues.
Brian Boogie Thomas (bass), Wade Warfield (Drums) and Wavorly Milor (Harmonica) provide outstanding studio back-up.
Largely performed on acoustic guitar, Cooks slide technique belongs to the best. In fact, with this fifth album one may ask: Who is Eric Clapton, Chris Rea, or Johnny Winters? The CD is simply thrilling! The sequence of songs in the track list has been chosen with purpose and cunning. The opening song,
Death Rattle, is a loose, steamy, rocking display of but one side of Cooks talents. In the background Milors harp howls to the rumbling rhythm of Warfields driving drums and Cooks psychedelic guitar, whilst Cook sings its story. The album concludes with a different version of the same song, Death Rattle (Slight Return). Longer than the Opener, Cook discards the bottleneck slide, abandons the Blues Rock sound, relies on the heat of a razor sharp Wah Wah , and becomes a wizard of the creative modern electric guitar.
Skip James Catfish Blues gets more a Melodic treatment. Played on the acoustic guitar, Warfields bass drum and clamp ring add dynamics. The piece has atmosphere! For Crow Jane, the second James composition, Cook shoulders a Strat loaded with distortion, Warfield lets loose on a full cannonade of drums, and Milors harp returns to the fray, producing Elis signature Grunge Blues sound. Highlight!
Cooks original compositions are beautifully interwoven into the list of cover songs. Of the two Groove-pieces, Suicide King and Better Man, the latter is superior. The low gutteral timbre of Cooks voice sounds as if the twenty-five year old has traveled the world of Blues for decades. Afrossippi Breakdown is a piece of solo Americana , and it's always wonderful to hear how well he, even without a slide, can play guitar. Oh man, there is yet another number that gives me goose bumps when I hear it: Driftin.
Every track on Ace, Jack & King is a trump, because no other Blues artist today can match Eli Cooks hand. The booklet is as economical as its Country Blues and contains only the most important information. The album is in every way a 12-Bar. Premium Product.--Joachim Joe Brookes, Rocktimes, Germany