Sunday, January 26, 2014

Laura Cantrell Releases Strong New Album

Laura Cantrell
No Way There From Here
Thrift Shop Records
Produced by Laura Cantrell 
and Mark Nevers
Five Scoops of Bosco

Reviewed by Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco

The last time we heard anything recorded from Country Singer/Songwriter Laura Cantrell was when she produced a wonderful tribute to Country legend Kitty Wells  (Kitty Wells Dresses: The Queen of Country Music) in 2011.

It's hard to believe, but it has been nine years since her last original full length standout album (Humming by the Flowered Vine) but a wonderful follow up arrives this coming Tuesday (Jan. 28) entitled No Way There From Here

For the uninitiated, the closest way to describe the Nashville-born Cantrell's song writing and musical sensibility is a combination of Amy Rigby and Roseanne Cash with just a tad more soprano, innocence and conversational singing voice.

Her voice is easy on the ears, in other words.

And less we forget, she is also recognized as one of the female singer/songwriters that really defined the Americana movement in the early part of the last decade.

The songs on this new album, all written or co-written by Cantrell, save for Jennifer O'Connor's Beg or Borrow are easy to listen to, but her strong and powerful lyrics belie the easiness of the music.

The underlying storyline on No Way There From Here shadows Cantrell's own experience of growing up in the hometown of Country music, Nashville,  but balances with the reality of moving to the big city (she now calls New York City her home).

On the second track for instance, "Starry Skies", she sings "I'm under starry skies...but it's alright"

A story, not necessarily autobiographical, but it speaks to the balance of many women in their mid to late 40's. Cantrell, 46, wants to exemplify the values expressed in Country music and country living but needs to face the reality of caring for family, friends and the need to make a living which pushes her into the big city and out of the country.

The message here is positive and even with that scenario says, "Life can actually be quite good".

This album has it's fun and insightful moments too.  My favorite is the opening track, an ode to her fellow girlfriends entitled "All The Girls Are Complicated" with the lyric hook "All the girls are complicated/All the girls will work you hard and then break their hearts/that's who they are...just working out who they are".

The other thing that has gotten better with age is Cantrell's musicianship.  Her guitar playing is better than ever and her backing band is tight and fun to listen to, especially the fiddle in "Starry Skies", the banjo in "Driving Down Your Street" and the slide guitar in "Someday Sparrow" and "Glass Armour".

"Letter She Wrote" plays out like a beautiful waltz while "Can't Wait" captures perfectly the longing and desire when your loved one is away a little too long.

It may take a few listens to get used to this album, but by the second or third round you will be hooked and it will definitely have to be in the conversation for Best County Album this year.

No comments: