Album Review of

Written by Joe Ross
November 6, 2022 - 7:09pm EST
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Amanda Cook is originally from Pace, Florida (a small town near Pensacola on the Gulf Coast). Her first band, formed in 2007 with her banjo-playing father, was called High Cotton. In 2013, she released her first solo album entitled One Stop along the Road. In 2016, she and banjo-player Carolyne Van Lierop formed their band called Kennesaw Ridge. Now based in Virginia, Amanda Cook is associated with the Mountain Fever label, and Changes is her fourth release for them, following Deep Water in 2017, Point of No Return in 2019, and Narrowing the Gap in 2021.Besides Cook and Van Lierop, the other band members are Josh Faul (bass), Brady Wallen (guitar),Troy Boone (mandolin), and George Mason (fiddle) who has been with the band since the beginning. Guest guitarist Aaron Ramsey plays on “Stars,” as well as engineering and co-producing the latest album Changes that is dedicated to Cook’s former bandmate, Aaron “Frosty” Foster.

Amanda Cook offers solid radio-friendly contemporary bluegrass, several drawn from the pens of other women songwriters like Paula Breedlove (“Carried Away”), Becky Buller (“Ready for a Bluer Sky”) and Suzanne Cox (“Look Me Up By the Ocean Floor”) with their collaborators. Joining the band in 2021, mandolinist Troy Boone composed “Back to my Home” and “”Walk the Way of Light.” The Amanda Cook Band also features three songs that Thomm Jutz had a hand in writing (“Ohio,” “Things That Matter Most,” and “Another Highway This Time”).  Jeff Partin’s “Stars” is a breezily romantic offering.

Cook has a knack for finding material that she can confidently vocalize with assertive melodies, crisp images and soulful loveliness. Listen carefully and you’ll hear some memorable hooks, as well, and Changes is another stellar addition to her catalog. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)