JEFF AND VIDA, “Selma Chalk,” Rosebank Records. 13 tracks.

Take a California girl who grew up in Germany and a New Jersey boy, put them together in New Orleans to form a band and what do you get?

I’m not really sure. But it’s good.

Jeff Burke and Vida Wakeman began performing their blend of bluegrass, alternative country, blues, rock, rockabilly, Cajun, folk and a few other things in New Orleans clubs in 1998.

They’ve toured nationally and internationally for the past 11 years and moved their base of operations to Nashville. And they’re ready for some wider recognition.

“Selma Chalk,” the latest album, was written entirely by Wakeman with assistance from Burke on four tracks and Pat Flory on one.

The title comes from a term for “an impurity found in the most fertile ground of the South,” the album says.

Wakeman’s lyrics are original, in some ways like a Southern poet. There’s a singer-songwriter feel to the album.

In “Alabama Sky,” she sings, “in that Alabama sky/there’s a falling star for each goodbye/and I just saw mine coming down/last night leaving town.”

In “Letter To My Love,” a woman has taken the blame for a murder committed by her lover. As her life nears its end, she sings, “It wasn’t the money that made me stay/It was not the world that led me astray/It was just to be near you near you everyday.”

The police tell her that they had a phone call, telling them where to find her and she laments, “Baby, was it you?”

 And in “Sharp As A Knife,” Wakeman sings, “my love for you is as sharp as a knife/cut me and bleed me and make me your wife/and if you don’t want me don’t throw me away/love without you is like hurt with out pain.”

Wakeman’s voice is unique. She doesn’t really sound like a bluegrass singer.

But “Little Sara” is definitely hard-charging bluegrass. “Sharp As A Knife” has bluegrass instrumentation. “Fire in the Water” and “Crush” also have a strong bluegrass presence.

While it’s not strictly a bluegrass album, “Selma Chalk” is definitely worth checking out.

Can’t find it in stores? Try www.jeffandvida.com.

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