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Becky Schlegel

Dandelion – 2010 (Lily Ray)

Reviewed by Donald Teplyske

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CDs by Becky Schlegel

Becky Schlegel has long been a preeminent bluegrass and roots music vocalist from the northern mid-west. Schlegel favors mid-tempo (and slower) ballads, and her songs often contain wistful reflections of broken relationships. While Schlegel tends to have little luck with love, at least in her songs, she is neither particularly negative nor angry. Mostly, Schlegel's melancholy romances are handled matter-of-frankly, with a little denial mixing in for self-preservation.

In I Never Loved You Cowboy, Schelegel sings, "I never wanted to ride away into your purple sky," denying - if only to herself - that the rodeo romance meant anything.

Co-producer Brian Fesler's banjo provides a bit of bluegrass presence on I Never Needed You, another fine song that never quite picks up to the pace some listeners might hope. Still, the vocal treatment from Schlegel, smoky and determined, is spot-on delivering bittersweet honesty.

Favoring minor keys, Schlegel doesn't recall prominent vocalists within the roots music world although she isn't so unusual that she doesn't fit in. Naturally, her voice is her strongest asset, but she continually demonstrates she is an adept songwriter.

Not everything about "Dandelion" is about lamented love. A vile darkness clouds the innocence of Cincinnati; it is a creepy song, suggesting things don't end brightly for our weary young traveler. More hopeful is the rekindled yearning of Reunion and the faithful remembrance that is Anna.

Beyond its slightly glaring pink album package, there is nothing off-putting about her fourth album. The songs inspire flashes of lingering mental melody. Schlegel again demonstrates that she is more than capable as a singer and writer.