Shelby Lynne, Suit Yourself

by Anita Troulee

Lynne is the queen of cool, her follow-up to 2003’s Identity Crisis continues with a consistent persona vocally of sparse moody territory, if the title of her 2003 release spoke to her self-esteem at the time, Suit Yourself highlights Lynne as more confident in every way.

Taking on the producer role again, Lynne took the demo tapes she made in her California home studio to Nashville, where she augmented her first-take vocals with guitar, keyboards, bass, drums, pedal steel, Dobro, and mandolin, employing those instruments merely as brush strokes on a wide-open canvas of voice and emotion.

Throughout, Lynne approaches the release in a relaxed organic approach almost like the listener could feel they are sitting cross-legged in the room. The first track begins with studio chatter, and elsewhere you can hear ice cubes clinking in a glass and the sound of someone pushing the stop button on a tape recorder. The release really captured the essence of unpretentious moments created from track to track with a purposeful unpolished, fly-on-the-wall approach.

Ultimately, this approach supports the honesty and strength of the material, which ranges from Lynne’s emotional cover of guest Tony Joe White’s “Rainy Night in Georgia” (here titled simply “Track 12”) to the groovalicious of “I Cry Everyday,” the emotional ballad “Old Time’s Sake,” and the Waylon Jennings-esque “Iced Tea.” Speaking of outlaws, “Johnny Met June,” one of the most memorable tracks, details the Cashes’ “meeting” on the far banks of the Jordan. Lynne wrote it the day Johnny died a fitting tribute to another phenomenal influence among the corral of superior songwriters, Lynne can certainly add her name to that list.

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