10 Songs, 39 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

On her third album, Laura Cantrell turns wistfulness into high art. Blessed with a charming, guileless voice whose clarity makes up for its slight thinness, this Nashville expatriate also has the kind of connoisseur's taste one might expect from the longtime host of WFMU's cult show Radio Thrift Shop. Her choice of material ranges from a curiously cheery version of the traditional murder ballad "Poor Ellen Smith" to covers of artists as major as Lucinda Williams (the brooding but ultimately transcendent "Letters") or obscure as the New York singer/songwriter Emily Spray (the lovely "14th Street"). Best of all, though, are four originals, including the melancholy Southerner-in-exile meditation "Khaki and Corduroy" and the album's highlight, the stunning, atmospheric "Bees." Featuring more expansive production and instrumentation than her previous efforts, Humming by the Flowered Vine feels like a hand extended to new fans. The best comparison here is to the sweetness of early-career Nanci Griffith, rather than Lucinda Williams's grit.

EDITORS’ NOTES

On her third album, Laura Cantrell turns wistfulness into high art. Blessed with a charming, guileless voice whose clarity makes up for its slight thinness, this Nashville expatriate also has the kind of connoisseur's taste one might expect from the longtime host of WFMU's cult show Radio Thrift Shop. Her choice of material ranges from a curiously cheery version of the traditional murder ballad "Poor Ellen Smith" to covers of artists as major as Lucinda Williams (the brooding but ultimately transcendent "Letters") or obscure as the New York singer/songwriter Emily Spray (the lovely "14th Street"). Best of all, though, are four originals, including the melancholy Southerner-in-exile meditation "Khaki and Corduroy" and the album's highlight, the stunning, atmospheric "Bees." Featuring more expansive production and instrumentation than her previous efforts, Humming by the Flowered Vine feels like a hand extended to new fans. The best comparison here is to the sweetness of early-career Nanci Griffith, rather than Lucinda Williams's grit.

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