I haven't listened to her.
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I'm from the NYC area so she is fairly well known via her show on a local radio station. Saw her at an outdoor concert a few years ago. I want to like her but feel she is seriously overrated. Can't really sing and her tunes are fairly uninspiring. I wish she did it for me because I really love the genre.
Laura's music is definitely worth the listen. There is a simplicity of style, a delicate, sweet voice, and a lack of angst, which I find very appealing.
She has put out 3 very good studio efforts:
Not the Tremblin' Kind (2000)
When the Roses Bloom Again (2002)
Humming by the Flowered Vine (2005)
There is also a live CD of early recordings (Hello Recordings) that her old label (Diesel Only) put out in 2004, which is so-so.
An intertesting tidbit is that Laura makes her home in Brooklyn (Williamsburg section). Great web-site with a nice selection of downloads.
That's actually the rub though ... there are so many sub-genres within the
Americana genre. Each sub-genre has its own characteristics. Whereas
Alison Krauss is more bluegrass than any other genre (think fiddle), Laura
Cantrall straddles traditional country and folk (think guitar). This is a sub-
genre that Laura shares with a Joan Baez, for example, but you couldn't find
two more diverse artists. Laura is in the tradition of a Nancy Griffith or a
Mary Chapin Carpenter ... a sweetish delicate voice singing songs about life
and nature. Laura is certainly no Allison Krauss (better musician) or Lucinda
Williams (different singing style and presence) ... but she does stand on her
own. What I find refreshing about Laura Cantrall is her laid backness.
There was a review of Bill Staines' "Second Million Miles" in last month's No
Depression magazine. The reviewer took Bill to task and dissed his album (a
greatest hits compilation, no less) because Bill is not an activist, like Bruce
Springsteen (the actual comparison). Staines is a champion yodeller and
storyteller, not a cultural icon.
With all this ... Laura Cantrall isn't overrated, just different ... a bit of a
Rich- I respect your opinion but at the bottom of it all is a voice that I think is simply less well endowed than many others in this type of music. She does possess a certain style and approach and like John Prine could be an acquired taste vocally but Prine is also a great song writer.
Laura is a regional favorite I am sure, much like Heidi Joy here in Omaha. Heidi Joy has great voice with several albums but only regional notice. She seems to have no definitive style covering all popular, spiritual, jazz etc.
At least Laura has a style which in itself can be an attraction.
All in all a matter of taste.