Shelby Lynne liberated with new album

Shelby Lynne
Tears, Lies and Alibis
Everso Records
Grade: ★★★★★

By Michael McCall, AP

The title of Shelby Lynne’s “Tears, Lies, and Alibis” signals the theme of her latest album: freshly lost love, the betrayal and confusion that precedes it, and the anger and loneliness that follows. Her musical choices are just as clearly stated: Ignoring contemporary formulas, “Tears, Lies, and Alibis” is as bare-boned as Willie Nelson’s 1975 classic, “Red Headed Stranger,” yet as relevant and heartrending as a divorce decree.

Built largely around an acoustic guitar, which is sometimes brushed delicately and other times bashed fiercely, Lynne explores relationship showdowns (“Like a Fool”) and character assessments (“Loser Dreamer,” “Old Dog”) in language that potently combines bold directness with poetic imagery.

Keeping her remarkable voice tempered to a conversational tone, she chooses to let inflections and shifts in phrasing convey talent and meaning rather than opening up and displaying her power. Her intimate tone turns songs into confessionals instead of show-biz statements. But Lynne isn’t looking to become anyone’s entertainment idol. She prefers to move others by effectively sharing what’s in her heart.

CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: The album’s angriest song, “Family Tree,” isn’t directed at a lover; it’s a bitter blast aimed at a close relative. Despite its acoustic setting, it clear-cuts the landscape like a raging bulldozer.


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