Shelby Lynne, “Shelby Lynne” (Thirty Tigers)
There’s hardly a song among the 11 on Shelby Lynne’s first solo record since 2015 that fails to mention love, and even the exceptions stay on theme.
The self-titled album is in part the soundtrack to an unreleased film she stars in, “When We Kill the Creators,” and some of the songs were recorded live on set.
Though many of the lyrics are from Cynthia Mort, the film’s screenwriter and director, it is Lynne’s name on the cover and it still sounds like one of her most personal collections.
Lynne, who often acts here as her own backing band, once again travels the fine line between happiness and heartbreak, making both feel necessary.
Love and relationships are presented in many phases and guises — celebratory (“I Got You”), nostalgic (“Weather”), yearning (“My Mind’s Riot,” which includes a Lynne sax solo) and resilient (“Here I Am”), among others.
Though there are some notable guests like Benmont Tench on a few songs, most of the arrangements are translucently elementary and it’s Lynne voice that carries the emotional weight.
Even with highlights throughout, there’s a definite mid-album peak with “Revolving Broken Heart,” “Off My Mind” and “Don’t Even Believe in Love.”
The first is one of those hushed cries of despondency Lynne excels at. It’s followed by a slice of southern soul in the Aretha Franklin mold, with Lynne playing all the instruments. Finally, comes a sleek tale of inevitability, one of the few tracks with a full band behind her.
Lynne, who with sister Allison Moorer released an album of covers stretching from Merle Haggard to Nirvana in 2017, makes this album one of the purest in her canon and makes one curious about the film.