“I try to be bleak and hopeless but it never works out,” says Austin, Texas-based singer/songwriter Amy Cook, letting out a slight chuckle. The alt-Americana musician maintains a level-headed optimism instead on her mellow slow-burners, like “Waiting 4 the World 2 End,” the opener of her latest album Summer Skin. “That song is an affirmation like, ‘Let’s not sit around and wait for the world to end,’” she adds. Cook’s done anything but, though, in her decade-spanning solo career, where she’s written songs that have appeared on primetime TV shows like Dawson’s Creek, Veronica Mars and The L Word and collaborated with people like famed cowpunk Alejandro Escovedo — whom she met after moving to Austin from California — and Ben Kweller, among others. For Summer Skin, she’s brought in an impressive group of contributors that include producer Craig Street — who worked on Norah Jones’ debut Come Away With Me — Robert Plant, Patty Griffin, Kweller, and a backing band that consists of Me’Shell N’Degeocello, David Garza, Chris Bruce, and Jonathan Wilson. “We recorded the whole record live in about five days with the band in Los Angeles and went back to Austin to do some background vocals and some overdubs,” she says. “That’s when Ben and Robert and Patti came in. Robert had known my songs for a while — [because] Patty, his girlfriend, is a good friend of mine — and [when] he heard “Airplane Driver” he really liked it and said, “Oh, I can hear some sort of mantra bits at the end.” So, he and Patti sang on the end of it. Then, he heard “It’s Gonna Rain” and asked, “Do you mind if I give it a go?” And I was like, “No, I do not mind.” But, for all of the high-profile appearances on Summer Skin, Cook is never outshined.
Summer Skin is out August 28 on Roothouse Records/Thirty Tigers. Stream it below: