Initially conceived as a Twentieth-anniversary nod to 2000 debut Not The Tremblin’ Type, this first-rate studio return was derailed by the pandemic. Simply Like A Rose is properly definitely worth the wait, although. Cantrell sees it as “extra of a celebration than a standard album”, the sum of myriad influences and types which have outlined her profession to date, from Peel favorite to Grand Ole Opry performer to profitable radio host on Gimme Nation.
The protracted gestation of Simply Like A Rose… additionally allowed her to herald a wealth of visitors, amongst them Steve Earle, Buddy Miller and rockabilly veteran Rosie Flores. The latter instantly impressed the title observe, a country-rock tribute to feminine singer-guitarists who proceed to roar: “Her colors are wild/Her methods are free”. Producer Flores and fellow guitarist Kenny Vaughan lock right into a stinging rhythm, overlaid with Cantrell’s clear, assured voice. An identical sentiment guides the ethereal “Unaccompanied”, which revisits her formative days in New York Metropolis, using the subway, catching gigs, immersing herself in music – “By myself/ Free to roam/On their own” – its wistful sense of autonomy accentuated by pedal metal from David Mansfield, beforehand a mainstay of Bob Dylan’s ’70s ensemble.
Earle seems on “When The Roses Bloom Once more”, an imposing duet remedy of a classic tune that Cantrell first reduce for her second album, again in 2002, and which owes its association to Jeff Tweedy (the Wilco chief had recorded it with Billy Bragg through the Mermaid Avenue periods). It’s brightened additional by Buddy Miller’s prolonged guitar break. “Bide My Time” is imbued with a satisfying twang, a gentle-ish paean to ramblin’ nation tropes, although the vintage vibe is most obvious on “Good Morning Mr Afternoon”. Written by Joe Flood and that includes Paul Burch and his WPA Ballclub, it’s a leisurely train in old-school honky-tonk. It finds its best distinction in “AWM – Bless”, a biting takedown of entitled, offended white maledom that couldn’t really feel extra 2023.