When the Roses Bloom Again
With a voice as clear and sobering as Sunday morning sunlight, Nashville-born, New York City based performer and radio personality Laura Cantrell is one of the great new talents in alt. country/folk music.
Although there are only four originals on her sophomore album (many are covers of other New York songwriters, such as Amy Rigby’s catchy pop nugget “Don’t Break the Heart” and Dave Schramm’s anti-war elegy “Conqueror’s Song”), Cantrell displays an outstanding voice, both understated and emotionally powerful, mournful without being sentimental, as well as offering gifted interpretations backed by her full band (featuring mandolin, pedal steel and jangly, Byrds-like guitar on the uptempo rockers). Her style could be called country-pop, but she shows a deep understanding of traditional country roots—classic themes of love lost abound.
The reflective title track is a beautiful cover of an outtake ballad from the Wilco/Billy Bragg collaboration of Woody Guthrie-penned lyrics, Mermaid Avenue (taken out when discovered that the song was originally published in 1901 by Gus Edwards and Will D. Cobb). If you needed more encouragement, Elvis Costello handpicked her to open 17 of his 2002 U.S. tour dates, saying of her music “If Kitty Wells made Rubber Soul, it would sound like Laura Cantrell.” There you go.