Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Jan. 18, 2002
Shelby Lynne Love, Shelby (Island) After a failed attempt as a Nashville-style country artist, Shelby Lynne released I Am Shelby Lynne two years ago. A near-perfect blend of rock and soul that "reinvented" her, the album garnered loads of much-deserved attention and led to Lynne winning a Grammy for Best New Artist. How one follows up on such unexpected success is always a tricky thing, however. On Love, Shelby, Lynne wants to grow up, but in the process falls flat on her face. The edges have all been sawed off of Lynne's sound by producer and co-songwriter Glen Ballard (Alanis Morrisette, Dave Matthews), and she appears as a positively wimpy adult. The Alabama native apparently has nothing new to say, so she resorts to one lyrical cliché after another and even makes up nonsense words -- "Tarpoleon Napoleon"-- when she runs out of ideas. Lynne has always possessed an attractive voice; the problem has seemingly been how to use it. On I Am Shelby Lynne, her Dusty Springfield-meets-Tammy Wynette style hit the mark, but here, the songs fail her. Especially boneheaded is a remake of John Lennon's "Mother." Lynne identifies with the song's intent as she lost her parents in horrible manner at a relatively early age, but the tune's blazing emotions are undermined by a U2-style ambient beginning that leads into some power ballad histrionics that probably have Lennon spinning in his grave.