Shelby Lynne | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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SHELBY LYNNE

Nashville has let yet another genuine talent slip through the cracks: Shelby Lynne, the older sister of current critical darling Allison Moorer, made a handful of unspectacular country albums in the 90s, but her debut for Island, I Am Shelby Lynne, is an artistic triumph. Produced by Bill Bottrell (who's also worked with Sheryl Crow), it's a glorious, broad survey of American sounds with an accent on blue-eyed soul that's brought on comparisons to Dusty Springfield's Dusty in Memphis. Highlights include the giddy vintage orchestral pop number "Your Lies," the raunchy Bonnie Raitt-style blues rocker "Life Is Bad," the gentle back-porch ballad "Lookin' Up," and the Dixieland horn touches on the quietly grinding "Why Can't You Be?"--but each and every one of the album's ten songs sticks. Lynne, whose native Alabama drawl is just about the only holdover here from her country days, is a fine songwriter and dazzling singer, with a deadly combination of power and restraint, toughness and vulnerability. The production has a heavy retro feel and sometimes sounds a little flat--Bottrell plays almost all the instruments--but Lynne's touring with a full band, and if their recent performance on Letterman is any indicator, they really bring the tunes to life. Saturday, 9 PM, Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln; 773-404-9494.

PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Rankin.

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