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Laura Cantrell 

Humming by the Flowered Vine

Wednesday, Jun 29 2005
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As the proprietress of Radio Thrift Shop on WFMU on the East Coast and an accomplished singer in her own right, Laura Cantrell is a champion of old-time country music -- and she makes it sound lovelier than ever on her Matador debut, Humming by the Flowered Vine. Her precise, crystal-clear vocals may sound cool to modern ears, but they're perfectly suited to these gorgeous melodies and honky-tonk rhythms. Only the Lucinda Williams cover, "Letters," feels like a reach -- Cantrell doesn't have that much gravel in her soul. But she's achingly sad on the ballad "Bees," as the band ebbs and flows behind her. And on the record's clear winner, the infectious AM-radio pop gem "14th Street," Cantrell's measured, shy delivery matches the song's love-struck protagonist, who can't decide whether to say hi or just hide. Timidness rarely sounds this pretty.

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Chris Dahlen

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