Laura Cantrell 'Kitty Wells Dresses- Songs of the Queen of Country Music' Shoeshine

Humming By The Flowered Vine, Laura Cantrell's last album was on Matador records and it found her broadening her musical palette, a move that pleased some and was less well-received by a portion of her earlier fans. This new project grew from her being asked to do a show at the Country Music Hall of Fame (that was to co-incided with a Kitty Wells exhibition), where she had once worked as a tour guide, that led, in turn, to her making this album. And from the get go let's be clear it's an absolute cracker. A wonderful re-energizing of another artists work and life. That, apparently, some have objected to a alt-country singer doing it is baffling and slightly barmy. As with Eilen Jewell's recent Loretta Lynn tribute album this is likely to bring younger fans to the work of an important country icon. Clearly and precisely produced by Cantwell and recorded and mixed by Mark Nevers (Lampchop, Charlie Louvin) the performances are excellent throughout. The opening title track, the only original song, written by Cantwell and Amy Allison open the album in fine style and sets the tone for the remaining nine songs that were recorded by Wells and many were written by Wells' husband Johnnie Wright including Poison In Your Heart, I Can't Tell My Heart as well as her intriguing take on the Well's breakthrough classic answer song It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels. The players involved are all those who have a complete understanding of classic country music and have also made music that is contemporary and entirely relevant to today's audiences. For instance her duet with Chuck Mead on One By One is captivating on many levels and features some great evocative steel playing from Chris Scruggs. The rest of the players are all equally skillful and versed in knowing exactly how to deliver a country song today that will appeal to fans old and new (fin most cases). They include Fats Kaplin, Mike Bub and Paul Burch as well as Caitlin Rose on backing vocals amongst others. This album is a joy from start to finish with Cantrell delivering her best vocal performance to date and even if it is a side project for Cantrell shows just hoe much audiences respond to the spirit and sources of country music. One associated commented that if Emmylou Harris made such an album now, as she has in the past she may be getting better reviews than her new album seems to be. Be that as it may be, and even if Laura Cantrell herself goes in a completely different direction with her next album, we should applaud and purchase this striking and successful album. Were else will you hear a new artist doing a recitation, as she does, on I Gave My Wedding Dress Away? Enough said.