Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Shelby Lynne I Am Shelby Lynne 1999

Shelby Lynne released five country records prior to this, and there is some good material on them. She has a good voice, and does that vulnerable thing especially well. But it never quite took.

This is a perfect pop record. Produced by Bill Bottrell, most songs co-written by Lynne and Bottrell, and lovingly engineered by Mark Cross, the record sounds fabulous.

Shelby was out to recreate her sound and image. The combination of Lynne's new found southern pop-rock-soul identity, Bottrell's production and arrangement flourishes, and an absolutely dynamic recording with depth and punch to spare add up to a winning formula. Now all we need are some songs.

And the songs deliver in spades. Your Lies starts things off in bombast mode, as dramatic as any tale of heartbreak you'll ever hear. Crank this one up, and test you're ability to withstand big pop music. It's classic. A Southern soul blend with sultry Philly soul slides through Leavin', Thought It Would Be Easier, Where I'm From, and Black Light Blue. Life Is Bad and Why Can't You Be are both quality mid-tempo, Sheryl Crow-styled rockers. Gotta Get Back swings like some unholy cross between Aretha and Sade with a little Dusty on the side. Even the softer moments of Lookin' Up (a 3 am blues) and Dreamsome hold up because of the interesting arrangements, both instrumental and vocal.

Great lyrics bathed in Southern themes and heartbreak. Sultry vocals with immaculate harmonies. Big, gorgeous production with just the right touches. Beautiful sound engineering, dynamic, crisp and clean, worthy of a high-quality music system.

Lynne has made at least one particularly good record since, her Dusty Springfield tribute Just A Little Lovin' 2008. But there's also been several self-produced disappointments, Love, Shelby 2001 and Suit Yourself 2005.

Nothing she did before or after can touch this magnificent record, and there are not many modern, intelligent pop records that can even come close. The sound of everything coming together.

1 comment:

  1. I agree completely - except Glen Ballard produced Love, Shelby...he's best known for producing Alanis Morrisette's first two records and though he's done some decent work, "Love Shelby" wasn't an example of it.

    Shelby's "Identity Crisis" had some moments you might want to check out if you haven't - "I'm Alive" and "Gotta Be Better" are raw, scruffy rockers falling somewhere between Sheryl Crow and Beck, "One With the Sun" and "If I Were Smart" are tender, touching ballads, and "Telephone" sounds like a sweet country b-side from the 70's.

    You're right, though, nothing will ever compare to "I Am Shelby Lynne."