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Adoration and Expectation: Shelby Lynne is Back
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Adoration and Expectation: Shelby Lynne is Back

Picture of Todd Bisson
Updated: 24 April 2017
Do you remember the first time you heard a song that went on to become an essential part of your musical identity? Here is an example: American Shelby Lynne’s ‘Dreamsome’ from the now-classic I Am Shelby Lynne. When the instant hit came on the radio back in 2000, it grabbed people’s attention. 15 years later, she’s returning with a new album.
Shelby Lynne performing live at "Country in the City" in Century City, Los Angeles | Justin Higuchi
Shelby Lynne performing live in Los Angeles | © Justin Higuchi/Wikimedia Commons

Warm Los Angeles Saturday. Radio up loud. Car turns from Sunset Blvd. onto Fairfax, heading to a drug store with then-girlfriend hanging close. You squint through the sunshine and turn up the volume. Lynne sings, ‘In the dark, I can hear you whisper.

​15 years go by. Just like that.

Lynne was essentially next-gen country up until that millennial moment. Tons of talent, and more Bluebird Café than Ryman Auditorium for all you Nashville fans (Trash TV, Music City, Altman movie; take your pick). Then came the defining perfection of I Am Shelby Lynne, where she transitioned from stultifying Music Row-esque to a soulful, rootsy pop blend, that fit her gorgeous gift of a voice and restless mind like a Lansky Brothers suit on a young Elvis. Ever-clueless, the Grammys handed Lynne the Best New Artist trophy, despite her having released albums for more than a decade previous.

Moments pass and Lynne has made less sublime, but still very worthy music, ranging from Love, Shelby, a gold-ring-pop grab with Glen Ballard, to the crystaline Americana of Identity Crisis, and effortless intricacy of Just A Little Lovin’, her long-form tribute to Dusty Springfield. Since 2008, Lynne has been making music completely on her own terms, and this year she returns from a four year absence with a new album, I Can’t Imagine, releasing in May on Rounder Records. This album marks a return to the South for Lynne, recorded in itty-bitty Maurice, Louisiana, and includes contributions from Ron Sexsmith and Clarence Greenwood (aka Citizen Cope).

As if to go back in history, a tour is planned that will feature I Am Shelby Lynne and I Can’t Imagine in their entireties.

Our advice: Set your Pollstar Tour notice alert now.

Todd Bisson