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Becky Schlegel & True Blue

Drifter Like Me – 2005 (Self-released)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Becky Schlegel & True Blue

Thanks to her innumerable appearances over the years on the venerable public radio stalwart "Prairie Home Companion," the words "bluegrass" and "Minnesota" have almost invariably conjured up the husky, bluesy stylings of Kate MacKenzie and her band Stoney Lonesome. Also from Minnesota, though with a sound and style all her own, is Becky Schlegel, and the 11 tracks here reveal her to be not only a vocalist with evocative, clear phrasing and delivery, but with a talent for artful and intelligent writing as well - all the tunes are originals.

Perhaps the most distinctive aspect is Schlegel's talent for saying a lot, in terms of the lyrics and arrangements, in relatively few words and understated production, and this is demonstrated best in the haunting sound and imagery of "California Night" and "These Hard Times."

Overall, the production is toward the "laid-back" end of the scale, and while there's not much instrumental flash, the backing is solid, competent and consistent with the mood set by Schlegel's winsome vocals, and it's the sort of bluegrass that should appeal to fans of Alison Krauss and, yes, Kate MacKenzie.