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Amy Cook came to music early in life. As an only child growing up in San Jose, California, she says, “I got really used to being in my own world a lot of the time, and I ended up listening to a lot of music in my room. I loved new wave pop but I also raided my mom and dad’s record collection a lot, so I heard plenty of ‘60s and ‘70s singer-songwriter music. Mostly, I’ve always been drawn to things that grab me with a melody, whether it’s rock or pop or folk.”

It’s not easy to fuse a connection between the heartstrings and the hipbone, to bridge the emotional intensity of a singer-songwriter and the effortless swagger of a born rocker. But that’s exactly what California-bred, Austin-based Amy Cook has been doing for more than a decade – winning over fans with tunes that not only connect, but also attach themselves to the very heart of pleasure.

On Summer Skin (Roothouse Records/Thirty Tigers), her latest album, Cook explores both sides of that personality, with the assistance of a remarkable group of musicians: Bassist Me’Shell N’Degeocello, guitarists David Garza and Chris Bruce, and Jonathan Wilson on drums, as well as guests Ben Kweller, Patty Griffin and Robert Plant (who adds instantly recognizable harmonies to the gently atmospheric “It’s Gonna Rain”).