One of the greatest voices of her generation, Shelby Lynne, since 19, has been breaking hearts and pouring out her heart in song. Starting out interpretive, but now an accomplished composer, she’s, again, in rare form on the self-released Tears, Lies & Alibis, straddling pop, country, soul and folk with a sly wink and a survivor’s strength. Her voice is satisfyingly close to the ear, a soulful caress.
After two perfect pop constructions complete with horns and keyboards that if radio had any brains should be blasting out of cars now, Lynne gets down’n’dirty for the duration: intimate, sexy, adorned only in acoustic guitar-based comfort and little else, innocent-yet-knowing, vulnerable and irresistible, starkly dramatic and stripped-down, emotional, quivering, etched with heartbreak and regret. She’d get down on her knees if only her lover would stay in “Like A Fool.” She cries, and just can’t wait to hear, the “Alibi.” In song after song of intimate reverie and poems of vindictive passions, her voice cracks in all the right places. Yet it’s all understated; true artistry, the exact opposite of all those shrieky obnoxious Idol posers.
“Is it too early for drinkin’?” she asks in “Old #7,” and as she does so, she effortlessly distills the essence of country music in one easy swipe. “There’s a demon in me pulling”…“I drink whiskey to try to forget”…“Somehow I’m like a lost dog searching for a porch to lie on.” Shelby’s evolved into a female Kristofferson when she writes lines like “Confusion leads to aggravation / Meanness is making me blind” or “Crawling in my skin, my body’s aging.”