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David Mallett

Artist in Me – 2004 (North Road)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by David Mallett

While there are country elements in Maine native David Mallett's presentation (supported by the fact that his songs have been covered by Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris and Hal Ketchum), he's really a troubadour in the classic folk tradition.

Mallett's voice trembles and implores with the passion and power of Pete Seeger (who has also covered Mallett's songs) while his gorgeous and simple folk songs explore life and love in small town New England with an eye for detail and an ear for melody to match the likes of Richard Shindell and David Wilcox. Although Mallett sticks close to matters of the heart on the songs from his 10th album - from the Willie Nelson-tinged "Strange Life" to the Dylan-like lope of the title cut to the Shindellic "Like Me Without You" - he does offer up a gentle Seeger-touched anti-war/big business protest in "Livin' on the Edge." Mallett's 25-year/10-album career (which included stints with Vanguard and Rounder) isn't widely known, but he's highly recognized at home; he was named one of Maine's most memorable residents of the 20th century (along with Stephen King and Andrew Wyeth). Given the dusty beauty here, Mallett should be a regional secret no longer.