Lucky by Suzy Bogguss

Grade: B+

Always one of country’s most respected voices, Suzy Bogguss lends a female perspective to the songs of Merle Haggard on Lucky, which features 12 outstanding covers of the Hag’s finest.

But if you’re thinking that Suzy’s folkie-centric style is a mismatch for Merle’s working-class material, think again. Suzy is absolutely effective on “The Bottle Let Me Down,” with an interpretation that’s totally believable.

“I Always Get Lucky With You” takes on the manner of a torch song in Suzy’s capable hands, while “Let’s Chase Each Other Around the Room” has a swing feel that adds to the playfulness of her version.

Suzy brings a powerful, poignant touch to “Sing Me Back Home” and “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink,” proving that these songs are not solely the provinces of the male voice.

Suzy gets plenty of all-star assistance from the likes of Jessi Alexander, Gretchen Peters and others for background vocals, as well as a band that understands the nuances of deft and tasty playing.

Lucky may prove a bit too laid-back for the diehards out there, who might prefer a rougher-edged collection, but this is a fresh take on Merle’s classics, as interpreted by the still-fabulous Suzy.

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