Deana Carter who exploded on the Nash Vegas scene with her hit “Did I Shave My Legs for This?” always seemed like she was holding back. Reined in by the strict formula of Music City production, listeners may have connected with Carter’s songs but there was too much other stuff going on — and tunes by too many other writers. Her second and third records suffered from more of the same but it was obviously not the fault of the artist. Finally, a full decade after her debut, Carter gets to release the album she’s always wanted to make with the Vanguard label. Carter wrote or co-wrote everything on this set, produced it, and had complete creative control. It stands head and shoulders above everything in her catalog. Carter’s musical approach touches on everything from California rock circa the 1970s, to Fleetwood Mac to country and folk, with flourish, aplomb, and elegance. As the title suggests this is a deeply personal and autobiographical outing with the various faces of love, its beginning, flowering, aftermath and redemption as its catalyst . The opener, “The Girl You Left Me For,” is a rocker, full of layered acoustic and roaring electrics on the refrains. If there is irony here, it’s well hidden; this is the sound of a heart broken and torn that will not let go. Alanis Morisette or Fiona Apple could have recorded this without a stretch. “Ordinary,” fueled by a Hammond B3 and strutting guitars, is the kind of love song that captures the moment where infatuation crosses the line into the real thing. “Sunny Day” is a bittersweet country-rock manifesto of love in the turbulence of modern life. It contains a killer hook, and a beautiful guitar solo by Jeff Carter that draws on Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour for inspiration. In sum, this is a seamless collection of gorgeously written and sung tunes; there are no excesses lyrically, musically or in instrumentation. Story of My Life is polished, but it’s far from slick; it’s honest, wears its heart on its sleeve and is full of imagination, grace , and spit. Meet Deana Carter, recording artist extraordinaire.