Laura Cantrell – No Way There From Here
Eight years after her 2005 all-original album Humming By The Flower Vine, and following the 2011 covers collection Kitty Wells Dresses, Tennessee-born, New York-based singer-songwriter Laura Cantrell releases No Way There From Here. At the first listen, what immediately shows up is the continuity with her Americana and alt-country legacy. But are enriched here by a thoughtful, introspective, at times either somber or cheerful lyric texture that partially reflects substantial awareness and disenchantment, though without lacking several moments of hope and optimism.
Cantrell’s warm, gentle, sweet voice is a kaleidoscope where emotions, passions, humour, and sadness pass through the lens of a finely crafted musical canvas. Her roots basis is amazingly, pleasantly intertwined with pop, folk and rock.
The opening track, “All The Girls Are Complicated”, besides being a catchy tune rich in instrumentation–even a bass clarinet–is an openhearted manifesto. It’s an ode to women and their complex world.
Fiddle harmonies strongly flow in the Jennifer O’Connors “Beg & Borrow Days”, the only cover song on the disc. It’s a beguiling country song with a British folk flavor.
In the same roots realm, the guitars, accordion & piano of “Starry Skies” are a natural and consequent segue. “Barely Said A Thing” is one of the most brilliant examples of pop-influenced country melodies I’ve heard, where Cantrell’s voice–as crystalline as ever–perfectly matches with the sweet final chorus.
In her superb repertory, there’s also space for some melancholy tunes like the waltz “Letter She Sent” and the ballad “Washsdays Blues”, where a poignant steel guitar underlines the sorrow that an ordinary life task can bring, and tells us how to hold on anyway.
A consistent part of the album is characterized by love themes and a more upbeat tone: “Can’t Wait, Driving Down Your Street” and “When It Comes To You”, all express the delight of experiencing true sentiments in common life situations, like being with–or bracing for the arrival of–a loved one.
Slide guitar and keybord in the emotional “Someday Sparrow” is the optimistic conclusion that completes the collection.
This album was recorded in her native Nashville at the Beech House Studio. Throughout, Cantrell’s developed style reaches a higher level of artistic maturity, rendering No Way There From Here a prominent model in the current “real” country scene.