review: Marla Cantrell
Laura Cantrell: $13
Singer-songwriter Laura Cantrell (no relation) lives in New York City, but don’t hold that against her. Her hometown is Nashville, and that’s where she recorded No Way There From Here, her fourth album, and one that falls somewhere between country and pop.
The album starts with “All The Girls Are Complicated,” a happy song celebrating women, their fierce friendships, and the confusion their partners feel when trying to figure them out. Laura says the lyrics came from her own life experiences. Her mother is one of twelve kids, five of them girls. Laura has a sister, a trove of girl cousins, tons of girlfriends, and an eight-year-old daughter.
“Starry Skies,” where she also plays rhythm guitar, looks at a long distance couple, one across the country under a star-spiked sky and the other in the big city under a blaze of manmade light, and their attempt to make it work. “I love a Texas sky, yes, it’s so fine / Trucks humming up Highway 9, yes, it’s so fine / Big yellow moon in my windowpane, a glimpse of silver from a passing plane / It’s just fine, yes, yes, it’s alright”
Part of the process to get this album ready was putting many of the songs in front of other singer-songwriters. Laura is a member of the Radio Free Song Club. Artists get together every couple of months, bringing their work in progress, and they listen to the others’ critiques. It’s become such a popular group, they now have their own podcast at radiofreesongclub.com.
While the critique group certainly helped, Laura’s skill with words is what truly matters. She’s a gifted writer, with articles published in places like Vanity Fair and The New York Times. She also has a voice pure as a bell — if you like Kacey Musgraves and Brandy Clark — you’ll love Laura Cantrell.
What stands out on this album, particularly, is her ability to bring universal feelings to such vivid life. On “Driving Down Your Street,” she sings about the longing to just stand on the stoop of the house of the one who broke your heart, to see them one last time, an urge that verges on obsession. On “When It Comes To You,” she tells the story we all know, the one about being so in love you’re at the mercy of your feelings, and you feel helpless to control any of it.
While each of the twelve songs on this album shines, it’s the title track, “No Way There From Here,” that’s impossible to forget. It’s so filled with regret, and so beautifully sung, you’ll be thinking about it long after the song ends.
No Way There From Here is a stunning collection, beautifully produced, and incorporates more horns and keyboards than most country albums. The result is a pitch perfect. If you only buy one album this summer, let it be this one. It’s destined to become one of your favorites.