Rhythm & Views

Laura Cantrell

You may already have heard Laura Cantrell's music on your favorite local radio station, but you may not know that only a couple thousand miles keep her from being your favorite disc jockey. In her dozen years as a popular fixture on the New York area's WFMU, she's rediscovered and promoted a wide range of traditional music, more than enough to know a great song when she hears one, or writes one herself.

Humming by the Flowered Vine is her third release, and while it's something of a departure from her debut, it is in a good way. She's stretched her wings to explore some pop and indie-rock ballads, but she hasn't strayed far from the sound that inspired iconic British deejay John Peel to call her debut, "My favourite record of the last 10 years and possibly, my life."

A reverent cover of Wynn Stewart's "Wishful Thinking" will make you don your dancing boots, and Cantrell's arrangement of the Appalachian antique "Poor Ellen Smith" will have you crying in your beer. But with producer JD Foster (Green On Red, Dwight Yoakam), she converts Jenifer Jackson's pop "What You Said" into a bluegrass song, then deconstructs it with accordion, handclaps and electric guitar. Calexico's Joey Burns and John Convertino color the background of Dave Schramm's lovely "And Still," which gives the record an unexpected Elephant 6-ish turn. Throughout, this New Yorker's vocals betray her own Southern roots and the heart she left in Nashville.