Becky Schlegel offers a rich album that's hard to absorb, kind of like eating dessert first. But once heard from start to finish, it's practically addictive. Former farm girl Schlegel hails from South Dakota and now lives in Minneapolis, proving bluegrass isn't about region. It's a sensibility and an attitude, at times wistful, other times gutsy, brought to life here with an angelic voice and plenty of verve. Schlegel's powerful backing band consists of Bo Ramsey on electric guitar, Brian Fesler, who co-produced with Schlegel, on guitar and banjo, Gordon Johnson on acoustic bass, plus Marc Anderson, percussion and Jeff Midkiff on mandolin. Between them, 13 original songs come to life with precision and authenticity. Randy Kohr (Dobro) and Peter Mayer add fine harmony vocals on select songs.
Once referred to as "the Alison Krauss of the Plains" by the Minnesota Star Tribune, it's easy to make the comparison, but the good news is, there's something more. Try listening to "99 percent" if you want to be swept off your feet (banjo ecstasy) or the ballad-like "Jenny," followed by "Bound for Tennessee." "Hills of South Dakota" closes with perfection.