Shelby Lynne I Am Shelby Lynne (Island Def Jam)

SXSW Records

Shelby Lynne

I Am Shelby Lynne (Island Def Jam)

Poor F. Scott Fitzgerald. As if Regis Philbin wasn't enough, along comes Alabama-born Shelby Lynne proving beyond a reasonable doubt there are second acts in American lives. After a stint as a CMT ingenue gone awry, she dropped off the radar before re-emerging with this out-of-time gem. I Am Shelby Lynne isn't far removed from Caucasian sistren Dusty Springfield and Bonnie Raitt, but the real secret of its magic can be traced directly back to the oeuvre of Seventies soul princess Ann Peebles. The speak/sung "Leavin'" takes refuge from no-good men in a downy bed of acoustic guitar and strings, while "Thought It Would Be Easier" sheds too-late tears on a polyrhythmic pillow reminiscent of "I Can't Stand the Rain." Appealing instrumental tweaks abound as well, as in the deadpan dobro of "Where I'm From" and perky Stevie Wonder harmonica break of "Gotta Get Back." Other details are attended to in the steely resolve of Lynne's deep-throated drawl; the way she says "hay-nd" on "Why Can't You Be?" is pure sugar magnolia. Lynne saves the best for last like Vanessa Williams, I Am concluding with the Ella-like "Black Light Blue," a nocturnal consideration of "the loner's lonely end" shrouded in fog and violins. No matter what or who you see reflected in those powder-blue eyes puffy from crying, Lynne's gonna tear your playhouse down. (Friday, Austin Music Hall, 11pm)

**** 

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