The title of journeyman northwest guitarist Rod Cook’s new solo album Uncooked is meant to be a clever play on words blending his name with a reference to the popular MTV acoustic music series, but it is also a most gross understatement for a piece of work that was fully prepared as a 13-course musical feast. Cook delivers thoughtfully orchestrated renditions of 10 classics and two original compositions that cover a wide breadth of genres all distilled to a man and his two favorite guitars. Cook opens with a sublime instrumental mash up of “Amazing Grace” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” sliding and finger-picking on his 1932 National Duolian, then moves to his trusted Guild D-35 to sing “Key To The Highway,” a deep cut from the late, great, Warren Zevon called “Carmelita,” and a masterclass on thumb picking technique on “Jiffy Jam.”
He transforms 60’s protest song “Politician,” into a mournful delta blues lament, and upends the melody of “House of the Rising Sun” playing it as jaunty ragtime. He sounds like he split himself in two on the full-tilt boogie “Find Your Own Business,” soloing with fire while holding down the groove. Cook demonstrates with songwriting prowess on the ode to self-worth “I Ain’t The Fool,” and the heartfelt love song “Heaven When You’re Near.” The final course is a display of classical chops rearranging Fab Four standards “Yesterday” and “Lady Madonna” into a Sonata and a Rondo for a confectionery delight. Bravo.
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