Shelby Lynne

I Am Shelby Lynne

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After years of kicking around Nashville to great acclaim but nonexistent sales, Shelby Lynne got fed up with the system and reinvented herself on I Am Shelby Lynne as a tough and sexy singer, equal parts Bonnie Raitt and Sheryl Crow. Though this album is undeniably classicist in approach, borrowing from classic R&B, country, soul, and rock & roll, it's cleverly constructed, as producer Bill Bottrell gives it a wonderful, warm production graced by slight contemporary flourishes (such as the rolling rhythms behind "Thought It Would Be Easier") that keep it fresh, not entrenched in history (even though its succinct ten tracks and half-hour running time are welcome holdovers from classic rock). Ultimately, of course, the triumph of the record belongs to Lynne, who finally sounds comfortable in her writing and voice. This music is so warm and welcoming, it's easy to overlook the darker themes running through the songs, particularly because Lynne's greatest strength is that she never oversings, shading her phrasing and drawing listeners in with her easy confidence and sexy rasp. This isn't an album that flaunts its strengths -- it's expertly constructed, subtle music that grows in stature with each spin, revealing Lynne as a trad rocker of uncommon skill and charm. It may have taken her years to finally find her groove, but I Am Shelby Lynne is so good, the wait seems worthwhile.

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