Camera Obscura, Laura Cantrell | Thalia Hall | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Camera Obscura, Laura Cantrell Member Picks All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Fri., July 25, 8 p.m. 2014

With her clear, unfussy voice and direct songwriting, Laura Cantrell makes the same sort of music she celebrated for years on her WFMU program Radio Thrift Shop, where she complemented classic Nashville country with other forms of strongly narrative Americana. But on her latest album, No Way There From Here (Thrift Shop), she doesn’t get bogged down pursuing “authenticity”; her lyrics aren’t set in a romanticized past, and the arrangements sound like contemporary country- and folk-rock (Cantrell worked with producer Mark Nevers and a top-notch group of players, including guitarists Kenny Vaughan, Dave Schramm, and William Tyler). On the gorgeous title track, the narrator and the object of her desire are irreparably separated (“There’s no way there from here / No bridge across the ocean / No path up through the mountains”), but the distance between them is emotional. Many of the new album’s songs traffic in this sort of unfulfilled longing, delivering timeless tales of heartbreak suffused with bittersweet recollections of more innocent or hopeful days. Just a handful look elsewhere for their subject matter. The opener, “All the Girls Are Complicated” (one of a pair of tunes written with Amy Allison, daughter of Mose), celebrates the bonds of sisterhood that endure through misunderstandings and unpleasant surprises; “Washday Blues” uses the act of doing laundry as a metaphor for getting past something painful. For this rare local appearance Cantrell is joined by guitarist Mark Spencer (who also plays on the record) and mandolinist Jimmy Ryan, both former members of the great Blood Oranges. —Peter Margasak

Price: $20

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