Revered country/Americana artist Elizabeth Cook will commemorate the 15th anniversary of her pivotal album Balls by reissuing the release on June 24 via Thirty Tigers. The reissue will include a repressing of CDs, remastered audio for a first pressing on vinyl, antique pink LPs, and repackaged artwork. Link to the pre-order here.
“It’s been 15 years,” Cook says. “In a way, I hardly recognize the sound of the girl on this record, but I recognize her drive for independence and stubborn insistence on freeing her voice. And it is an honor and awe-inspiring in this hard-knock town to still be standing today and have the opportunity to celebrate that.”
Originally released in 2007, Balls was a career-defining moment for Cook as an independent voice in the Americana scene. The 11-song collection was produced by Rodney Crowell and features contemporary classics like “Mama’s Prayers” and “Rest Your Weary Mind” (featuring a duet with Bobby Bare, Jr.), alongside the gorgeous genre-breaching cover of Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning”. But the album’s major marks were made by expressive standouts “Times are Tough in Rock N’ Roll” and “Sometimes It Takes Balls to Be a Woman”, which set Cook on a path toward individuality and artistic self-discovery.
Cook describes the album’s origin:
“In 2006, I had been kicking around Nashville’s Music Row for about eight years. Two major label records deals and six years of co-writing for publishing companies had given me, shall we say, a certain disposition. I had a bad taste in my mouth for the entire system. I reluctantly took a co-writing appointment with an Australian artist named Melinda Schneider. She came to my house on a sunny, quiet day and was airing her experiences with the industry and, though our worlds were literally continents apart, I could relate. We wrote “Sometimes It Takes Balls to Be a Woman” on the spot. We laughed so hard and had the best time writing it. I didn’t know how, or if, the song would go over, and honestly didn’t really care. At the time I was essentially disenfranchised by Nashville’s music business. But I was still kicking around town here and there. I started singing that song out. Legendary Texas singer/songwriter Nanci Griffith heard it and before I knew it, I was in a studio with Rodney Crowell producing the first real artistically independent album of my career, Balls. It was my fourth album.”
With Balls, Cook jumped the gap between mainstream conformity and artistic independence by tightening her signature sound and working in additional elements of humor and authenticity. While taboo at the time, such creative and wry choices had a ripple effect and are now load-bearing characteristics for successful Americana artists such as Jason Isbell, Margo Price, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Lilly Hiatt, and others.
Cook is currently a radio host on Sirius XM with her own show, “Elizabeth Cook’s Apron Strings”, and released her most recent album Aftermath in 2020 via Agent Love. She will be on tour in the summer and fall. Find dates here.