Corinne Cook releases “Yes I Can” LP
Corinne Cook’s Yes I Can, on initial inspection, seems like a narrowly tailored effort most likely aimed at the pop country crowd, but it ends up being so much more with even a cursory spin through its eight songs. I love the mix of various styles making their presence felt on Yes I Can without ever veering too far from the album’s overall template of Americana woven with pop song qualities. The California native has come a long way, both personally and artistically, from her beginnings around the family jam circle. She’s worked to support her musical ambitions and served her country during the Gulf War conflict – experiences that, undoubtedly, inform and enrich the performances she gives us on Yes I Can. This is the sort of album that, ultimately, stands as a career defining achievement for most performers, but there’s a strong sense of Corinne Cook’s new album that she’s just beginning to approach her peak even with this formidable release.
She sends the album into full swing with its first song. “Last Thing to Go” will impress you on a first listen thanks to the polished, yet authentic sounding way Cook and her collaborators milk the blues genre for all its worth including some fiery harmonica playing as well. Lead guitar does take some important forays here and elsewhere on the release, but “Last Thing to Go” is our first illustration that this isn’t an album with solos masquerading as legitimate songs; instead, every note here and elsewhere is geared towards serving the song. “One Box of Tissues” doubles down on that approach but resorts to a little bit of good natured, clever trickery to get us there. It begins life as an ornate, piano driven ballad before Cook shakes things up with a slide into a mid-tempo push that sustains the song through its remaining time. The title song “Yes I Can” is, easily, one of the album’s highest points and stands as one of Cook’s best moments yet as a recording artist. Her commitment to the lyrical material is palpable and she dials the intensity up even higher with the affirmative, near rousing, chorus.
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“Devil’s Heaven” is another stinging tune with a stick to your ribs chorus, but Cook and her musical partners are working much closer to rock music here than ever before. Naturally, it’s all colored with more than a little blues influence, but never as overtly presented as we heard with the album’s opener. The blues of “Last Thing to Go” is even further away with the album’s next number, “Mr. Mechanic”, and the live wire guitar playing making this song pop benefits enormously from a pawing, gently teasing Cook vocal. The production keeps this song a little raw, as well, and it makes for one of the album’s best cuts.
Yes I Can ends with the track “Those Few Dreams” and, despite the sad cast to the song, Cook sings with such unbridled care and passion about her subject that the listening experience is ultimately redemptive rather than depressing. Transforming grief and uncertainty into art is one hallmark for any great artist and the final number on this album underlines that assertion. Corinne Cook’s Yes I Can is a complete achievement for a performer and songwriter who has shown great courage in never relinquishing her dreams and the transformative power of her own talents.