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.