First known as the host for "The Radio Thrift Shop," a mostly country music program on New Jersey's WFMU, Laura Cantrell has parlayed her love of good music into an exceptional debut. She penned four of the dozen songs in the sometimes-honky-tonk, sometimes-rootsy collection and chose her covers well: the songs are catchy in the "good way," with melodies listeners would be happy to harmonize with or keep in their heads all day.
If anything, her voice is almost too sweet and clear, but fitting for the straight tales of lost love and bittersweet recollections found on the album. Robin Goldwasser provides poignantly dissonant backing vocals on "Two Seconds," and backs Cantrell on most of the tunes. Jon Graboff's restrained mandolin playing is a welcome accompaniment to the songs; his pedal steel playing is equally good, as are his acoustic guitar licks on Cantrell's "Churches off the Interstate," an upbeat number whose melody rolls by like a wronged lover travelling the open road.
With low-key songs of sweet melancholy mixed among rousing toe-tappers, this record's worth a listen. And another. And another. (100 N. Sixth St., Brooklyn, NY 11211, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)