Desert Island Discs: “When The Roses Bloom Again” by Laura Cantrell (2002)

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Not long after its official origins in the early 1900’s, country music quickly began to endure the vicious cycle of having its authenticity tainted by commercial compromise, then redeemed, however fleetingly, by some “underground” roots movement.  And it’s a relief to hear so many of those redeeming qualities in the voice of Laura Cantrell, a city gal who celebrates country tradition in her music even as she augments it. – Michael Sandlin

It is a telling commentary on modern country music that some of the finest new voices are coming out of “nontraditional” locales. Mind you, these voices do not receive any significant airplay, but they are there for those looking and listening hard enough to find them. Toss aside your commercial, cookie-cutter discs. Pick up some Laura Cantrell and be reintroduced to great country music. – MZ

I’ve banged on several times about the state of “commercial compromise,” as Michael Sandlin describes it, that “new”/”pop” country music currently endures. It would seem that a colossal roots revival is what it will take to redeem its authenticity, one that I don’t see on the horizon just yet. But this album is a confident step in the right direction: “When The Roses Bloom Again” by Laura Cantrell.

I first heard Laura on a song from her first album, “Not The Tremblin’ Kind.” The song was “Little Bit Of You,” which I’ve featured elsewhere on this blog. My initial thought from the first album was that she put me in mind of Nanci Griffith and Emmylou Harris, two of my favorite “new traditionalists.” As it played along, though, I also heard a great similarity to Norah Jones and Aimee Mann. I was reluctant to pick up this, her second album, fearing there would be no way it could live up to the standards set by the first. Was I wrong. “When The Roses Bloom Again” took everything that was great about its predecessor, and made it greater.

Born in Nashville, Laura set off to New York to attend Columbia College. While pursuing an impressive career in banking she hosted a radio show for thirteen years, “The Radio Thrift Shop,” on community radio station WFMU in Jersey City. This led to two years hosting a show on BBC Radio Scotland, which led to performing, which led to recording, which led to touring. And in more recent years, Laura’s been a contributor to The New York Times and Vanity Fair.

Laura is an archivist, a new traditionalist, and a song interpreter with genuine love and respect for the greats of country. It’s almost impossible to rank any one song over another, but here are some of the most memorable.

Jesus, Jesus
Won’t you tell me how to do it?
You know I wouldn’t trust the world
Half as far as you threw it

But if it’s true what they say
Someone must pay
I’ll bear my share of pain
But I won’t take all the blame
If it’s all the same to you

And I never thought much about it
How it all might change one day
I just let myself feel good about you
Way back in the early years

Those early years, those heady days
They rolled from one into the other
Then walked away
I was so naïve but I felt so strong
Way back in the early years

Is happiness your main consideration?
You won’t escape the pain and obligation
A break is what you want, but you won’t get it
Our love can last, but only if you let it

Don’t break the heart that needs you
There’s nowhere you can go but down if you do
To turn your back on someone will make you sorry
I can guarantee you
Don’t make the fatal error of thinking you’ll find someone better
‘Cause you won’t
Don’t break the heart that needs you
Don’t, don’t, don’t

Some you’ll remember for something said or done
Some you’ll ignore the way they hit and run
Some memories painful, some memories best to forget
But, over and over, you find you guided your steps

Through all the temptations
All, all the relations
All, all the sad faces
None with the vaguest idea

Laura Cantrell is one of the best things to happen to country music in years. “When The Roses Bloom Again” is a great place to start to discover her awesome and heartfelt songs. A Desert Island Disc to be sure.

2 Comments on “Desert Island Discs: “When The Roses Bloom Again” by Laura Cantrell (2002)”

  1. […] “When The Roses Bloom Again” by Laura Cantrell (2002) 5/30/13: “Headquarters” by The Monkees (1967) 5/9/13: “Above The Blue” by Vegas […]

  2. […] I’ve quoted someone before about how country music seems to endure a vicious cycle of having its authenticity tainted by commercial compromise; dumbed down and lamed up, like it seems to be today. Then its authenticity is redeemed, however fleetingly, by an “underground” roots movement. This is exactly what happened with the “outlaw country” movement, which led to the release of one of the best albums of any genre in the 70s: Willie Nelson’s 1975 release “Red Headed Stranger.” […]

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