No Way There From Here
Thrift Shop Recordings

Over her five albums, New York-via-Nashville alt-country songbird Laura Cantrell has evolved steadily from savvy stylist to genuine article. That progression continues in fine form on No Way There From Here, an intimate, effortlessly soulful country-pop gem that tackles grown-up emotional issues with insight, compassion, and engaging songcraft, minus the archivist fussiness that could be a distraction on her early releases. The artist’s first album of original tunes since 2005’s Humming by the Flowered Vine, No Way There From Here more or less picks up where that ace effort left off, with a dozen mostly self-penned tunes that are more concerned with speaking from the heart than emulating her musical heroines. With the wry, anthemic opener “All the Girls are Complicated” setting the tone, such affectingly forthright miniatures as “Starry Skies,” “Letter She Sent,” “Can’t Wait,” and “Washday Blues” eloquently address mature struggles, documenting heartbreaking defeats and small triumphs with subtle authority. The lyrics are matched by the crafty, understated arrangements and by Cantrell’s gently expressive voice, whose blend of vulnerability and strength has never been more affecting than it is here. — SCOTT SCHINDER