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The Sky Observer's Guide

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Album Review

A couple of years back, a modestly successful L.A. singer/songwriter named Amy Cook got bored with southern California life and ended up in the small town of Marfa, about equidistant from El Paso and Odessa in that part of west Texas that's really more like southern New Mexico. The Sky Observer's Guide isn't explicitly about Cook's new way of life, but from the opening seconds of the first track, the Galaxie 500-goes-alt-country "Coming Home (The Eclipse)," any west Texas native would instantly identify with the song's sense of middle-of-nowhere melancholy and panoramic spaciousness, not to mention the yearning countrified ache of the chorus. After that astoundingly good opening track, the rest of The Sky Observer's Guide settles into a more familiar brand of AAA pop that's not without its charms (Sheryl Crow would kill for a song as catchy as "The Answer"), but comparatively lacking in personality. It's not until the next to last song, a tender ballad called "Pearl," which Cook dedicates to her late grandmother, that The Sky Observer's Guide returns to the widescreen resonance of the opening song, adding echo and reverb-drenched, space rockish guitar riffs à la fellow Texans Explosions in the Sky to what easily could have been a treacly bit of soft rock fluff. Amy Cook is unquestionably talented, and The Sky Observer's Guide is a solid record that hints more than once at future greatness, but just a little bit more of that kind of sonic inventiveness would elevate this album even further.

Biography

Born: 30 January 1979 in San Jose, CA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s, '10s

California-raised, Texas-based singer/songwriter Amy Cook spent her formative years carving out a niche as an enterprising, independent artist in Los Angeles, self-releasing records and collecting revenue from tracks that she licensed to film and television. Weary of the grind, Cook eventually made her way to the West Texas town of Marfa, where she recorded a collection of lo-fi, cricket- and coyote-peppered originals that she dubbed The Bunkhouse Recordings. Upon relocating to Austin, Cook released...
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The Sky Observer's Guide, Amy Cook
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