Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Laura Cantrell: No Way There From Here [Thrift Shop, 2014]
Now in her mid forties, Nashville-born, New York-based Columbia grad Cantrell has always been one of those intensely likable, not necessarily female Nashville helpmeets whose own music is a quantum too mild to break out of their circle. But on her first album of new songs since she stepped back to have a kid, two cowrites with the darker and sharper Amy Allison are intensely flavorful: the pan-feminist "All the Girls Are Complicated" and the pining-for-my-guy "Can't Wait." Great melodies too from Jennifer O'Connor on the songwriter-centric "Beg or Borrow Days" and Franklin Bruno on the dislocated "No Way There From Here" and, hey, Laura Cantrell acting alone on the calmly bereft "Letter She Sent." That's a lot. Welcome outside the circle, ma'am. A-