Laura Cantrell

There’s something huge to be said for longevity in the music business and staying true to your vision, and Laura Cantrell, a singer songwriter with alt country leanings has been making thoughtful, well-constructed records since 2000, but here on her fifth studio record she seems to have hit a higher note. Cantrell has always had a strong but unadorned, almost girlish voice that hovers in a narrow range, but the big difference here is the material, most of which she wrote or co-wrote.

Recorded in her hometown of Nashville (though she lives in NYC) with a band that includes guitarist Kenny Vaughan and harmony vocals on several tracks by current Nashville sensation Caitlin Rose, No Way There From Here is anchored by the title track, co–written with Franklin Bruno, which is easily one of the best tunes Cantrell’s ever put her name on. While it may be motherhood and the time she took off from music between 2006–2011, Cantrell somehow seems to live inside these songs more than on past records. The way she sells the bitter-edged liberation inherent in the words to Jennifer O’Connor’s “Beg or Borrow Days”—I’m gonna drink black coffee all nite long/until I write the perfect song/and I won’t give up if the chords are wrong/and words don’t fit or rhyme—has great emotional wallop.

Produced by Cantrell and frequent collaborator Mark Nevers, this is home recording worth a listen with a medium–sized soundstage and very respectable dynamics. Overall, a classy, heartfelt set from a savvy pro that has paid her dues.