As if an album of Merle Haggard covers didn't present a brazen enough endeavor, Suzy Bogguss' first LP in three years ups the ante by tackling some of the outlaw legend's most beloved hits. Bogguss handles the tunes with a distinct and endearing reverence, while also offering a feminine spin to Haggard's rough-hewn machismo. Opening pair, "Today I Started Loving You Again" and "Silver Wings," delicately salves heartache, while the shuffling "The Bottle Let Me Down" slows to a more fluid, woozy pace. The exceptional pull of "I Always Get Lucky With You" lingers against the drawn-out harmonica, as "If We Make It Through December" and "Sing Me Back Home" both find new poignancy in Bogguss' vocals, and "The Running Kind" kicks the pace alongside the bluesy, boozy seduction of "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink." A marvelous recasting that achieves both comfortable familiarity and surprising new emotions. (10pm, Shotguns)
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