At around the time the calendar odometer took its might spin from 1999 to 2000, I was extremely anxious about all the music I was missing. I’d graduated some seven years earlier, meaning I’d left the constantly rushing stream of college radio behind (I stuck around the station for another year-and-a-half as a community volunteer deejay, but the immersive quality of being a leader there meant exposure to new music didn’t feel quite the same). I deluded myself into thinking that working at a “new rock alternative” commercial station kept me connected, but I now realize the ratio of truly exceptional new music to the ugly, commodified barnacle carcasses of college rock was tragically lopsided to latter. And yet, I didn’t even have that by the last year of the millennium.
So the albums I really connected with and then clung to have a special place for me, especially those releases that still sound just as good fifteen years later. I Am Shelby Lynne falls squarely into that category. I can’t pinpoint exactly how I discovered it, though I’m fairly sure I bought it without hearing a note of the music. It’s possible Lynne got a little love from the local “adult alternative” (yuck) station, but I’m not sure even that sort of modest radio play was forthcoming. Instead, Lynne’s album was absolutely raved about from all corners of the music press, surely in part because the narrative of an artist taking charge of her sound and career after years of being pressed into prefab polished twang material by Nashville was absolutely irresistible.
Luckily, I Am Shelby Lynne is great even without the backstory. It’s soulful, smart, powerfully sung, and marvelously seductive. Right from the very first track, “Your Lies,” it announces itself as something special. For me, as I suppose it was for Lynne, the whole album was something of a rescue.
Listen or download –> Shelby Lynne, “Your Lies”
(Disclaimer: Here comes a more labored disclaimer than usual. I believe the originally issued I Am Shelby Lynne is out of print, although I will concede that the album was probably allowed to lapse in production only to allow the label to produce an anniversary reissue with bonus tracks and a DVD shoved into the jewel case. I’d post a link to it, encouraging a purchase, but that would require promotion of an online retailer, and I think everyone would be much happier if any monetary exchanges related to this album took place at your favorite local, independently-owned record store in a manner that compensated both the proprietor of said store and Ms. Lynne. I know I have a favorite store. I’m sure you do, too. Please consider this track an enticement to make that purchase. I will gladly and promptly remove the file from my little corner of the digital world if asked to do so by any individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)