Elizabeth Cook

Anyone who heard the memorable refrain from the title track of Elizabeth Cook's 2007 album Balls ("Sometimes it takes balls to be a woman") or tunes in her weekday-morning show Apron Strings on Sirius/XM's Outlaw Country channel, knows the Florida native isn't afraid to speak her mind. Now residing in Nashville, Cook is back to her down-home, forthright ways on next month's Welder, whether advising a lover to put that six-pack on ice on "Yes to Booty" or recounting her rural origins on "Blackland Farmer." Produced by Don Was, Welder is largely upbeat and lighthearted, a sunny and slightly racy ("El Camino," "Snake in the Bed," about an actual reptile) blend of aw-shucks country and gritty rock. Not always, though — the album's title comes from stark acoustic ballad "Heroin Addict Sister," while the similarly self-explanatory "Mama's Funeral" is closer to an Appalachian hymn.

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