Mary Lou Lord is the female Evan Dando. It's not just that they're both from Massachusetts or that they're both essentially folk troubadours with an uncanny knack for inhabiting others' material--and frequently even the same material, e.g., Big Star's "Thirteen" and Neil Young's "Barstool Blues." Nor is it the Cobain connection--Lord reportedly had a pre-Courtney fling with Kurt, while Love was forced to deny rumors that she and Dando had been carrying on--or that they've both taken long sabbaticals to deal with substance abuse and family commitments. What really ties them together as artists is that Lord, like Dando, has a bewitching ability to convey both bubbly charm and gravity in her songs, a talent that has earned her a dedicated fan base willing to suffer through any strange twists her career and catalog take. How else to explain the public's continued interest in Lord given her paltry discography? Her forthcoming Baby Blue (Rubric) is just her third long player and second proper studio full-length since her debut single on Kill Rock Stars 11 years ago. Following up 2001's back-to-busking affair, Live City Sounds--recorded in subway stations--Lord has paired with frequent collaborator Nick Saloman, of the Bevis Frond, to fashion a slight but enjoyable album of bedsit balladry. The set is predictably heavy on covers, including several Frond songs and readings of classics by Pink Floyd ("Fearless") and Badfinger ("Baby Blue"). Lord once again proves a gifted offbeat interpreter, bringing a featherlight touch and organic pop nous to everything she does, particularly Saloman's slippery psychedelic odes. Gingersol opens, then returns as Lord's band. Friday, February 27, 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508. Also: 6 PM, Reckless Records, 3157 N. Broadway; 773-404-5080.