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Laura Cantrell

Kitty Wells Dresses: Songs of the Queen of Country Music – 2011 (Diesel Only)

Reviewed by Donald Teplyske

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CDs by Laura Cantrell

Over the past decade, Laura Cantrell has become one of the most lauded singers within the Americana field. A gifted songwriter herself, Cantrell has been quick with a cover having included songs from diverse sources including Roger Miller, New Order, Gordon Lightfoot, Lucinda Williams and Wynn Stewart on her albums. Obviously a labor of love, "Kitty Wells Dresses: Songs of the Queen of Country Music" doesn't stop with charts hits, although a handful are included including impressive renditions of Making Believe and Amigo's Guitar. Cantrell's voice is naturally sweeter than Wells', but contains the same dignity and latent strength.

Less familiar songs are afforded the opportunity to speak to the breadth and depth of Wells' career as one of the first female stars of country music. I Don't Claim to Be An Angel didn't chart for Wells when she released it in 1953, and Cantrell's performance is so formidable, one wonders how such a song missed. One By One was a number 1 for Wells, and with Chuck Mead singing Red Foley's part in the duet, 50-plus years melt away.

The new original song Kitty Wells Dresses captures Cantrell's sediments most honestly as she sings of "the robes of the queen" - being made of five-and-dime gingham and ribbon. Listing several singers who performed on the same stages as Wells, Cantrell honors all who broke the road that she and other females have followed.

Backed by stellar Nashville musicians including Mike Bub, Paul Burch, Billy Contreras, Fats Kaplin, and Chris Scruggs, Cantrell has created an artful and respectful to the first and only Queen of Country Music, Kitty Wells.