Laura Cantrell’s ‘No Way There From Here’ Is A Perfect Tiny Jewel Of A Record
Though it has inexplicably been available in the UK rather than here for some time (so unfair), country songstress Laura Cantrell’s new record, No Way There From Here, is finally out stateside today, and it is so well worth the wait.
On this, her fifth full-length studio record, Cantrell winds her way through a lovely wistful trip through some well-worn classic country sounds. The record is a comfort, one of those things that reminds you of other favorites but doesn’t let its influences bury the artist at the heart of the record. That’s not surprising, given that Cantrell has always been great about paying homage without aping, of tipping her cap to her favorite records without tipping over into sounding just like her favorite records. In the time since her last album of original materia, 2005’s Humming by the Flowered Vine, Cantrell released a Kitty Wells cover recordand an excellently quirky set of covers of songs about traveling, Trains and Boats and Planes.
On No Way There From Here, the most obvious touchstone is 1980s-era Nanci Griffith. Griffith had a ten-year run as the best example of a country artist who loved the quotidian, who told you stories of the workaday, the mundane, the small triumphs and losses, and made you feel like they were your own. Here, Cantrell picks up that mantle. The songs here aren’t epic soaring anthems of love across the ages, not that there’s anything wrong with that. They’re tiny triumphs and tragedies, slices of ordinary life. “Letter She Sent” is a perfect example of this. An achingly sad look at the life of many different women, it contains this one crystalline moment of workaday joy: “the sun on her skin felt like good news.”
Many of the arrangements are that unmistakable lush vintage country-pop that is perfect, somehow, for heartache.
Cantrell’s songs are perfect pieces of love and loss for grown people, not because we are all too cool or too old for teen pop, but because by now we all carry those tiny nicks and cuts, that hefty baggage, that makes those tales of first love and first loss no longer necessarily resonate like they once did. A song like “Washday Blues” encompasses that perfect adult weary loneliness that happens when you’re fighting. “I’ve been trying not to feel so mean/ but I found myself crying to the washing machine.”
There’s plenty of other retro-Americana stuff out there you could let pass you by, but this is the real deal. In case you need any convincing, Cantrell provides a wealth of great free downloads on her own site, including a really lovely cover of Elvis Costello’s “Indoor Fireworks.” First taste is always free.
No Way There From Hereis out today on Thrift Shop Records.