Spanning two discs and over two decades' worth of music, Alabama's In the Mood: The Love Songs collects the most romantic moments from the band's body of work, including "Close Enough to Perfect," "Feels So Right," "How Do You Fall in Love," and "The Closer You Get." Indeed, love songs play a fairly significant part in the band's career – many of the tracks included here, such as "Fallin' Again," "Touch Me When We're Dancing," "Lady Down on Love," and "In Pictures," also appear on For the Record, Alabama's collection of chart-topping singles. All of this means In the Mood: The Love Songs is a consistent collection of the band's easygoing, sentimental songs, and while it doesn't replace a more straightforward greatest-hits compilation, it should please the band's fans as well as anyone partial to romantic country.
It's obvious from the greasy opening blues vibe in "Exodus of Venus," the title track of Elizabeth Cook's first album in six years, that something is very different. Produced by guitarist Dexter Green, this set is heavier, darker, and harder than anything she's released before. Its 11 songs are performed by a crack band that includes bassist Willie Weeks, drummer Matt Chamberlain, keyboardist Ralph Lofton, and lap steel guitarist Jesse Aycock. The tunes are drenched in swampy electric blues, psychedelic Americana, gritty R&B, and post-outlaw country. Cook has been tried by fire these past few years. She's endured six deaths – including her parents – a divorce, a stint in rehab, and more. It slowed her writing to a crawl. Exodus of Venus is her way of telling that story, and as such, its songs often stray from the narrative storyteller's manner she's previously employed in favor of a more jarring poetic style that still communicates directly.