Shelby Lynne Identity Crisis Review

Released 2003.  

BBC Review

Her lyrics evoke an atmosphere that's tender yet resigned to life's bitter-sweet regrets.

Maud Hand 2003

Shelby Lynne's latest album, is practically a one-woman project. Apart from keyboards courtesy of Little Feat's Bill Payne, percussion from Kevin Ricard and Larry Antonio's bass, Lynne performs all the vocals and guitar on these self-penned songs. There's an introspective feel which is not surprising. Most of it was created from the comfort of her Palm Springs home studio during a year long reprise from touring.

Although Shelby Lynne had been on the American country circuit for 12 years she debuted on Nashville TV in a duet with George Jones when she was 18 - it wasn't until she was awarded Best New Artist Grammy for I Am Shelby Lynne (2000) that she gained any real recognition. Working with producer, Bill Bottrell, better known for his work on Sheryl Crow's Tuesday Night Music Club, Lynne borrowed from rock, jazz and R&B styles. Love Shelby, produced by Glen Ballard of Alanis Morrisette fame, continued in the same vein with one track, ''Killin' Kind'' making it to the Bridget Jones' Diary soundtrack.

On Identity Crisis Lynne returns to her country roots, yet she's still grappling with her musical identity. She borrows freely from soul, blues, gospel and vintage rock 'n' roll leaving me wondering if it's all too derivative. There's the gospel-tinged ''10 Rocks'', the Patsy Cline inspired big band burst of ''Lonesome'' and hints of Hank Williams on ''Evil Man''. The more I listen the more Lynne's stylish yet simple close mic'd sound pleases.

Having witnessed her drunken father murder her mother and then do away with himself when she was 17 years old, tragedy has inevitably shaped Shelby's sensibilities and that cuts through on Identity Crisis. From lost love on ''If I Were Smart'' and ''I Don't Think So'' to the no-push-over proclamations of ''Buttons and Beaus'', her lyrics evoke an atmosphere that's tender yet resigned to life's bitter-sweet regrets. Despite this I can't help feeling that the real Shelby Lynne has yet to truly let rip in the raw style of her heroes; Elvis, Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson.

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