Canadian alternative-country artist Carolyn Mark mixes reverb-retro twang with affectionate melodies and a wry, darkly humorous viewpoint that gives modern feminism an astute voice. Mark’s fifth solo album, Nothing Is Free, captures her iconoclast insight of life on the road and the incongruity of having hope in a hopeless world, all while avoiding romantic clichés.

“Happy 2B Flying Away” connects the contradiction of remaining home and being on tour (“Think of all you miss by staying/Think of all you miss by leaving”). Mark’s Loretta Lynn-like sassiness pervades literate but approachable in “The 1 That Got Away (With It),” where Mark asserts to be neither the new mistress nor the boring old wife.

“There’s the one that got away/And the one that’s in the way,” Mark good-naturedly sings. “I just want to be the one that got away with it.”

Other highlights include rakish infidelity track “Pictures at 5,” the Eleni Mandell-ish tale of longing “Honest Woman” and the unexpected, Portishead-esque final song “Destination: You.”

Grade: A

Nothing Is Free is currently available.