Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Shelby Lynne & her Dusty tribute.

You might not know who she is but in 2001 Shelby Lynne won the Grammy for best new artist for her album "I Am ... Shelby Lynne." I had bought this album on a recommendation from my friend John Black and fell in love with her sultry style and smokey yet belter voice.

Her new album, Just a Little Lovin', draws on the comparison of her with British singer Dusty Springfield. Dusty died of breast cancer in 1999. This album is her starkly arranged and seductively heartfelt homage to the songbook of Dusty Springfield. Instead of paying tribute as concept, Lynne owns these songs, taking inspiration to create her own sober renditions of indelible melodies from the '60s and '70s.

I read that Lynne, 39, wasn't familiar with Springfield's music until after she began making records in Nashville during the late '80s. She knew many of the songs from other versions — Dionne Warwick's Anyone Who Had a Heart, Elvis Presley's You Don't Have to Say You Love Me and Waylon Jennings' Willie & Laura Mae Jones, a song Springfield recorded around the time of her landmark 1969 album Dusty in Memphis.

Her idea for this album started in 2005 and 3 years later was released. When the project finally developed, Lynne found herself drawn as much to Dusty herself as to her music.

"Her vulnerability, her female-ness, her need," Lynne says. "You just want to take care of her. When I hear her sing, that's what I feel."

If you have never picked any of her stuff up and want an album that just makes you feel good, pick this one up. There's no "Son of a Preacher Man," (Dusty's big hit that Lynne felt was too sacred to cover) no horn sections and not much groove, just bare-bones interpretations that are more light jazz than country, including a gorgeous "Anyone Who Had a Heart." Lynne's musical focus & talent are quite amazing and this album truly widens the spectrum of what she can do. If you like this, pick up her first album, "I am...Shelby Lynne."

And let's keep our fingers crossed that she comes to Austin, cause I gotta see this girl live.

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