The Wildwood that Elizabeth Cook comes from is in Central Florida, not South Jersey.
"People say to me, 'If you're from Florida, where'd you get that Southern accent?' They don't realize Florida is a Southern state," said Cook, who plays the Sellersville Theater on Wednesday. She was sitting on a bar stool in an alleyway behind an Austin bar on a sunny afternoon during the South by Southwest Music Festival recently.
"I say, 'When you go to Florida, where do you go, the beach?' " said the singer-songwriter. She's also Monday-Friday drive-time host on Sirius/XM satellite radio's Outlaw Country channel. "You don't find my people there. My people are inland, where there are watermelon groves and tomato farms. My daddy was a welder. He went to jail for running moonshine, and when he got out of jail, he met my mom."
Cook has country music in her blood. Her parents' family band featured her mother on mandolin and father on upright bass. She went to school to be an accountant and moved to Nashville in 1996 to take a job with Price Waterhouse. That career path didn't take.
"That sucked," she says, and after a year of crunching numbers, she got offered a songwriter's job with a publisher on Music Row, "and I took it, for a giant pay cut."
Her father's profession provides the title of Cook's crackling new album, Welder, which producer Don Was helmed between jobs working on the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street outtakes and putting together a Fleetwood Mac tribute album for Target. "He has an excellent console-side manner," says Cook, 37, who's married to Nashville songwriter Tim Carroll. "Very wise. He speaks softly, but when he talks everyone listens."
Welder is a musically varied collection that mixes lighthearted and downright goofy fare with the seriously smart and soulful. The former category includes the singalong "Yes to Booty" and slinky "El Camino," which Cook says is a song "about being with a guy who is just so totally inappropriate that you don't want your friends to know."
The album includes the gripping "Heroin Addict Sister," about which Cook, who has 10 half-brothers and sisters, says, "I've decided I don't want to say anything about it except what's in the song." Welder closes with the haunting "Till Then."
The satellite-radio gig fell in Cook's lap when she went to New York to promote her 2007 album Balls at Sirius headquarters. Program director Jeremy Tepper heard her sweet and tart Central Florida twang and asked, "Do you want a radio show?" She said no. But Tepper prevailed, and two years on, Cook's still getting up early for her 6 a.m. weekdays for her show, Apron Strings, spinning Hank Williams and David Allan Coe (and Elizabeth Cook), while, as the Sirius ad copy hypes it, offering a scintillating mix of "music, recipes and household cleaning tips."
"I've got to say I've enjoyed it," Cook says. "I call it regressive talk radio, because I have nothing to say."