You can probably count on one hand the number of good country songs about New York City; you can definitely count on one hand the number of good country songs about New York City not written by Woody Guthrie. Laura Cantrell is the author of at least one of these excellent Nashville-meets-New York melodies with the first song, “14th Street,” off her third full-length album, Humming By the Flowered Vine. In her sweet, airy, almost Joni Mitchell-ish voice, Cantrell sings about walking on that crosstown street against a background of soft yet twangy acoustic guitars.
Nashville native Cantrell sings lyrics earnestly like someone who has loved and lost, a road trodden by many country stars before her. “I see you on the street,” Cantrell sings longingly, “You kiss my cheek / My knees go week / It’s clear you’ve got nothing to lose / But I’m losing sleep.” Besides the songs that she herself penned, Cantrell pays homage to alt-country goddess Lucinda Williams by recording “Letters,” a Williams rarity from a ’70s demo.
It’s Cantrell’s day job to dig up such country and bluegrass rarities: She hosts a radio show on the famed freeform radio network WFMU out of Jersey City, New Jersey, called Radio Thrift Shop. Also appearing on Humming By the Flowered Vine is an old Appalachian ballad, first collected in the 1930s called “Poor Ellen Smith.”
Cantrell is currently on a U.S. tour in support of Humming By the Flowered Vine, which came out June 21 on Matador. After she finishes up on the West Coast, Cantrell is off to Europe to perform with Lucinda Williams.
Laura Cantrell tour dates: 6/22, Boston, MA (Museum of Fine Arts)6/23, Burlington, VT (Higher Ground Showcase Lounge)6/24, Northampton, MA (Iron Horse Music Hall)6/25, Hoboken, NJ (Maxwell’s)6/27, Philadelphia, PA (Tin Angel)6/28, Arlington, VA (Iota)6/29, Charlottesville, VA (Gravity Lounge)6/30, Raleigh, NC (The Pour House)7/1, Atlanta, GA (The Red Light Cafe)7/4, New York, NY (Battery Park Lawn)7/9, Santa Monica, CA (McCabe’s Guitar Shop)7/11, Seattle, WA (Easy Street Records)7/12, Seattle, WA (Triple Door)