Shelby Lynne

Restless

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The Curb reissue of Shelby Lynne's 1995 album, Restless, is a compelling one. While Lynne has undergone almost continual -- and mostly positive -- reinvention since she resurfaced with I Am Shelby Lynne in 2000, it's interesting to hear her on this Brent Maher-produced slab of swinging-for-the-charts commercial country. Of course, her voice is a trademark; whether she's singing the new traditionalist honky tonk of Maher's own "Another Chance at Love," Jamie O'Hara's weeper "Talkin' to Myself Again," or the jazzy country-pop that is Rod McGaha's "I Wish I Knew," the commitment to excellence is total. But these tracks, fine as they are, offer no revelation of Lynne's true "restlessness," which resides in her own R&B-tinged hard country shuffle "Slow Me Down" and in the numbers she wrote with Maher and O'Hara, including the title cut, the Western swing of "Reach for the Rhythm," and the hot jazz gypsy swing of "Swingtown," which closes the set. Here, Lynne reveals in spades that her voice has no limitations when it comes to reaching for the margins in classic American music. She can sing jazz, blues, and R&B, and rock a honky tonk with the best of them. In its day, Restless was dismissed as gimmicky for its stubborn refusal to follow "the format." History has vindicated Shelby Lynne. That this set would get a second chance when so many of the recordings of her contemporaries have long since been deleted or hit the buck bin is proof of the album's elusive yet enduring excellence.

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