Shelby Lynne

I am Shelby Lynne (Island ’00) Rating: A-
This album is as confident a statement of purpose as its self-announcing title would indicate. “Your Lies” begins the album with a powerhouse vocal performance that’s matched to devastating lyrics (“your lies won’t leave me alone”) and a big sound. This song, and the sexy next song “Leavin’,” makes me think of the orchestrated soul vibe of Dusty Springfield's Dusty In Memphis, but a true rock n’ roll spirit is evident on “Life Is Bad” and “Why Can’t You Be,” which bring to mind Lucinda Williams and Sheryl Crow, respectively. Elsewhere, the sultry grooves of “Thought It Would Be Easier” and “Dreamsome” have an enticing Everything But the Girl-like vibe, while Bonnie Raitt would likely appreciate the catchy guitar pop of “Gotta Get Back.” Although Lynne seems to be searching for her own identity throughout the album (her songs always remind me of other artists - then again, Williams, Crow, and Raitt sometimes remind me of each other as well), the overall quality of these 10 stylish songs, and of her striking voice, cannot be denied. “Where I’m From” is probably the most country tinged tune here, but to label her a country artist (as many have done) is far too limiting and not especially accurate. In fact, Ms. Lynne is adept at a great many styles, and this album has an admirable amount of depth and variety while also flowing together quite naturally. Even when her songs are awash in strings the arrangements are rarely overly saccharine – just adult, mature, sexy, and accessible, making this surprising success one of the year’s standout albums. Note: Shelby Lynne was the recipient of the “Best New Artist” Grammy Award in 2000, as the ever-oblivious Grammy voters seemed completely unaware that this was in fact Shelby's sixth album! Note #2: Unsurprisingly, Lynne released an album of Dusty Springfield covers in 2008.

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