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Mary Lou Lord 

Baby Blue (Rubric Records)

Were Mary Lou Lord and Jewel separated at birth? Here we have a couple of cute blondes with musical talent to spare. But while Jewel uses her perkiness in pursuit of superstardom, Mary Lou, like any good evil twin, just wants to rock.

Lord is no riot grrrl on Baby Blue. Neither is she a barefoot Joan Baez folkie or a whiny Lilith Fair type. The album, like her last full-length studio release, Got No Shadow, is a collaboration with Nick Saloman of Bevis Frond, who penned 9 of the 14 songs and co-wrote two others.

And there isn't a throwaway in the bunch. Baby Blue is a seductive mix of 1970s folk rock and straight-ahead thrum, with Lord's sweet, breathy vocals stealing the show. Lovers of jangly guitar -- reminiscent of R.E.M. before they went MTV on us -- should dig this. And what would a Mary Lou Lord release be without a few imaginative covers? She provides a pair from 1971: Badfinger's title cut and Pink Floyd's "Fearless," on which she employs the same deadpan vocal delivery that made the original so spooky, living up to the song's title and then some.

More by Steve Byrne

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