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"Talking to Strangers" is blues-belter Shemekia Copeland's newest, and man, it's a real corker.

Produced by legendary Cajun soul man Dr. John, the album reveals Copeland to be one of the finest blues vocalists of her generation, a fiery singer whose considerably passionate, dark-hued alto blurs the edges between old-school blues and juke-joint boogie.

Few folks playing the blues for a living are able to tread the tightrope between traditionalism and modernity; often, what passes for modern blues is simply overtly slick, studio-sanitized Chicago-era blues. Copeland, however, is able to tap deep into the veins of the idiom while keeping one foot in present-day songwriting. It's the voice -- thunderous, raw but schooled as hell -- that makes it all work.

Copeland will bring her much-ballyhooed live show to the Tralf, 100 Theatre Place, for a show at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Call the Tralf at 851-8725 or visit www.tralf.com for ticket information.