As a frequent interpreter of other people’s music, New York-via-Nashville musician Laura Cantrell excels at capturing the longing hovering just beneath the surface of a song. Even the most hopeful moments on her latest solo album, No Way There From Here — the rollicking country mash note “When It Comes to You,” the piano-garnished Americana of “Can’t Wait” — curl at the edges with wistfulness. The major difference this time around is that Cantrell has largely written the bulk of the material on the record, either by herself or with co-writers (a list that includes Franklin Bruno, Sam Bisbee and Camera Obscura’s Traceyanne Campbell). The result is a series of neatly wound vignettes touching on cheeky gender relations (the sturdy jangle rocker “All the Girls Are Complicated”), soldiering through life despite disappointment (the gentle ballad “Letter Never Sent”) and mustering up the confidence to persevere despite obstacles (the Neko Case-like sparse closer “Someday Sparrow”). Musically, the rest of No Way There From Here is just as exquisite: The record’s crisp folk and country accents — all plucked banjo, woozy pedal steel and brushed drums — enhance Cantrell’s unflappable, faintly twangy delivery. As usual where she’s concerned, simplicity and subtlety make perfect bedfellows.
By Keith Harris on 04.22.11 in Reviews
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