Following her somewhat belated Best New Artist Grammy award (six albums and 13 years into her musical career), Shelby Lynne's follow-up to the truly heartbreaking and spectacular I Am Shelby Lynne finds her reaching out to a more rock-oriented audience with mixed results. After some last minute retooling from the record label, Love, Shelby proves Lynne can still write a hook, but much of what makes or breaks the finished results ultimately falls in the hands of her producer. While the critically acclaimed mix of Memphis soul and whispered almost-country on I am Shelby Lynne reverberated with an honest longing, thanks in large part to producer Bill Bottrell (Sheryl Crow, Lisa Germano), the follow-up seems slickly over-produced at times and occasionally forced, with some of the blame certainly falling on new producer Glen Ballard (Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews). While Ballard's clean rock production really worked for Alanis (and almost no one else, truth be told), an artist like Shelby Lynne who oozes a raw sexuality and an almost primal passion for her song subjects, could have benefited from a less contemporary feel in the studio, as was evidenced by Bottrell's earlier collaboration with the artist. That being said, Love, Shelby hits its stride about mid-album, starting with the dynamic "I Can't Wait," continuing through "Tarpoleon Napoleon" and the single "Killin' Kind, which all stand side by side with some of her best songs. In all honesty, this would actually be a more successful album if her previous work hadn't been so strong. It seems as though the singer had such artistic success with her "rock-tinged'" record that she thought it would be a good idea to push the envelope further into an almost strictly rock environment. Unfortunately, by stripping almost all of the country elements out of the songs, she stripped out a good deal of the fire along with it. The few songs that embrace her rough, soulful edge are pretty terrific, and (hopefully) smarter choices in the future will bring about another strong album along the same lines as I Am...
AllMusic Review by Zac Johnson