Shelby Lynne Tears, Lies, and Alibis Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

Effortlessly convinces you she’s lived this stuff, and means every word.

Nick Barraclough 2010

There’s melancholy underneath just about everything Shelby Lynne comes out with. Not surprising, considering the hard start she had in life. Melancholia, though, has been a valuable underpinning for many songwriters, and when mixed with a little wry humour, it’s very effective.

And that’s what we have here. Personal songs, ranging from Alibi – the thoughts of a woman as she starches the collar of her cheating husband’s shirt – to Something to be Said About Airstreams, extolling the virtues of the iconic trailer.

Her appealing unpredictability is occasionally let down by an over-reliance on cliché, though. In Like a Fool she falls back on lines about clowns and how love is blind. Since everything else is so endearingly quirky, it’s a shame Lynne hasn’t spent a bit more time on those words.

Shelby’s previous offerings have taken her through mainstream country, western swing and big band to a tribute to Dusty Springfield. Of this record she says, "I finally have the creative control I’ve needed to get my vision out there." She certainly has her stamp on it; all the songs are hers, and they’re set against the backdrop of her own, strummed guitar. That makes it very personal: a session guitar player would never play like that, which isn’t to demean her technique in any way; she accompanies herself better than anyone else could. She knows where she’s going.

Tears, Lies, and Alibis is an album worth buying mainly for two reasons. Firstly the opening track, Rains Came. It sits in what sounds like a familiar bed, but doesn’t quite go where you expect it to, and is, this time, lyrically opaque. Secondly, you can drown in her voice. It is fabulous; not an in-your-face "listen to how many octaves I can leap" sort of way, but it effortlessly convinces you she’s lived this stuff, and means every word.

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