Shelby Lynne – Love, Shelby (2022)

Posted by Green on May 13, 2022as


When former country starlet Shelby Lynne reinvented her musical persona on 2000’s flawed but affecting I Am Shelby Lynne, critics salivated and even the Grammys responded with a belated Best New Artist trophy. The album’s sound, somewhere between classic Memphis grooves, gothic swamp music, and post-Brill Building AM pop, was special enough that word of Lynne’s studio collaboration with hyper-commercial producer-songwriter Glen Ballard (Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews Band) set some minds to worrying that her edge would be lost. They can stop fretting. Love, Shelby is actually superior in some ways to its predecessor. If anything, Lynne’s writing and singing here are even more compelling. Ballard’s touch is limited mostly to stacks of electric and acoustic guitars, which seem designed to slide the songs onto contemporary radio, and the updated, hip-hop-shaded beats that power many cuts. Lynne’s concerns are front and center, whether in the vows of emotional openness and resilience on “Wall in Your Heart,” “Trust Me,” and “I Can’t Wait” or the intimations of Southern soul on “Bend.” John Lennon’s “Mother” becomes a sort of autobiography in her hands–her father killed her mother in a murder-suicide when Lynne was a teenager–until switching the song’s perspective to her dad’s in the final verse. Her story gives the soaring “Killin’ Kind” (previously heard on the Bridget Jones’s Diary soundtrack) a hint of ambivalence about romantic surrender. A couple of cuts, most obviously “Jesus on a Greyhound,” succumb to the self-consciousness that marred a couple of I Am Shelby Lynne’s sketches, but that’s a minor complaint in the face of what this record’s best has to offer. –Rickey Wright

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