First Appeared in The Music Box, July 2005, Volume 12, #7
Written by T.J. Simon
After several straightforward, country-oriented albums that went nowhere, Shelby Lynne found her voice ó and a Grammy Award ó with her 2000 make-over I Am Shelby Lynne, a wonderful disc that blended alt-country with Dusty Springfield-style, blue-eyed soul. It was followed by the commercial and critical disappointments Love, Shelby and Identity Crisis, both of which failed to recapture the magic of her breakout effort and largely went unnoticed by the public. Now, Lynne returns in good form with Suit Yourself, a 12-song, largely acoustic, blend of intimate alt-country, blues, and soul. While the outingís highs donít soar with the best moments of I Am Shelby Lynne, the new release is a consistent pleasure to the ears.
Lynneís husky voice has the ability to convey stark emotional ground that likely comes from some dark places in her past. As a teenager, she and her sister (singer-songwriter Allison Moorer) witnessed their motherís murder at the hands of their father, who then turned the gun upon himself. So, when Lynne sings a soulful, emotive ballad such as I Cry Everyday, itís instantly credible and real. The discís opener Go With It is the collectionís best track, as she captures the southern soul sound to perfection. Other standout selections include the blues-y shuffle of Youíre the Man and the Bonnie Raitt-inspired You Donít Have a Heart.
While thereís nothing wrong with the straightforward acoustic country ballads on Suit Yourself, they tend to be nondescript and indistinguishable from the countless other female artists who are doing the same thing. Songs such as Sleep and Old Timeís Sake are technically flawless, but they lack that special something that is necessary for setting them apart from Lynneís magical, soulful side. The best country moment on the disc is the subtle and understated Iced Tea, which invokes Willie Nelsonís approach to crafting a song, and it works like a charm. The album also contains a well-performed cover of Rainy Night in Georgia (listed simply as Track 12).
Another impressive element of Suit Yourself is that Lynne produced the effort herself, and the mix is perfect. On future releases, Lynne would be wise to distance herself further from standard country fare and instead emphasize her soulful side, but in the meantime, thereís a lot to enjoy on Suit Yourself. Ĺ
Of Further Interest...
Suit Yourself is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box