Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Shelby Lynne has released her self-titled album via Thirty Tigers. Critics and fans alike have praised the powerful release which finds the celebrated artist at her most vulnerable self. Many of the songs on Shelby Lynne were recorded during the filming of the unreleased independent film, “When We Kill The Creators”, Lynne’s collaboration with lyricist/director/screenwriter, Cynthia Mort. The film stars Lynne as a deeply conflicted artist struggling at the intersection of art and commerce. The songs “Here I Am,” “Strange Things” and “Weather” were recorded during the filming, while “Revolving Broken Heart” and “Love is Coming” are featured in both the film and on the album. All of these tracks capture the raw intimacy of Lynne’s performances.
While Shelby Lynne boasts several other musicians, including keyboardists Benmont Tench, Mimi Friedman, Ed Roth and Billy Mitchell, for the most part, the album’s namesake does it all – playing guitar, keyboards, bass, drums and even sax, on the smoky “My Mind’s Riot.”
In many ways, this album scans like a concept piece – each song seems to take on the persona of a different era (intentional or unintentional, it makes this album even more interesting and captivating). Of the songs, “Strange Things” has a torch-song vibe; sedate with piano and a mellow jazz feel – a very clever opening track for an album (as opposed to going for something that explodes and grabs you by the throat for the sake of grabbing your immediate interest) – Ms. Lynne’s vocals are absolutely gorgeous; shimmering, powerful and full-bodied; “I Got You” sent me right back to the mid-’70’s with its soft-soul vibe (and use of Fender Rhodes) – a perfect groove and “Weather” has an older, more classic country ballad feel (Patsy Cline came to mind). “Here I Am” is a masterpiece – and easily the album’s center showcase – just a piano and that incredible voice – you can feel the emotion coming through clearly and demonstrates Ms. Lynne’s vocal power without any distractions. “Off My Mind” also has that slow-groove; soulful fill (which Ms. Lynne executes so well; so naturally) and “Revolving Broken Heart” is the album’s sweetest moment, with its subdued arrangement and delivery – and absolutely gorgeous harmonies.
I confess, I’ve been a fan of Shelby Lynne’s for years; her career has had some interesting peaks and turns – from the explosive breakout of 1998’s I Am Shelby Lynne to 2015’s I Can’t Imagine, she always tries to stretch and offer something new. She succeeds on this album, yet again.
As the press release accompanying this album says, “Shelby Lynne offers a glimpse at an artist fully exposed; at the peak of her powers, with nothing standing in the way, a direct line to the heart.” I think that’s a very apt assessment.
Shelby Lynne is currently available