Being raised in the Northeast was never an impediment to Bruce Springsteen singing ragtag folk songs as if he'd lived in the dust bowl all his life. Hence, the Long Island-bred Shannon McNally similarly sounds like she resided in the Deep South for her formative years. A later move to New Orleans colored in the philosophical and cultural gaps, which allows her sophomore release to bask in the heat, swamp and mystery of the Southern experience.
McNally connects the often disparate dots of American culture and history in her own fashion. She dedicated Geronimo to the spirit of its title subject and "the disenchanted hope of Hunter S. Thompson."
There's lots of musical Americana rolling around Geronimo, too, from its covers of Bobby Charles' flickering "Tennessee Blues" (given a languid Norah Jones interpretation), to a sexy, steel drum-enhanced reading of Taj Mahal's "Lovin' in My Baby's Eyes." McNally's vocals encompass the whisky-soaked fire of Lucinda Williams and Maria McKee tempered with the nonchalant rasp of Stevie Nicks. Unfussy production from ex-Dylan band member Charlie Sexton keeps the guitar-based album raw yet clean.
McNally's literate, evocative lyrics and black-coffee voice examine matters of the heart from a fresh, intelligent perspective that renders all geographical references insignificant.
Shannon McNally plays Variety Playhouse with the BoDeans, Fri., Sept. 9, 8:30 p.m. $20. 1099 Euclid Ave. 404-524-7354. www.variety-playhouse.com.