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Album Review

Shelby Lynne's early career on Epic Records frustrated fans of her rich, soulful contralto because, though she placed three albums and nine singles in the country charts between 1988 and 1991, she never scored the big hit needed to propel her to star status. Not all collections are hit oriented, of course, but Epic Recordings makes a particular point of second-guessing Epic's singles choices. Of the 16 tracks drawn from the 30 recordings released on her three Epic albums, Sunrise, Tough All Over, and Soft Talk, only one, "I'll Lie Myself to Sleep," was released as a single. That leaves the compilers plenty of room to emphasize Lynne's diversity, from her Western swing renditions of Duke Ellington's "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and the Louis Armstrong hit "I'm Confessin'" to a stirring country-rock version of Charlie Rich's "Lonely Weekends" and a fierce performance of Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line." There are also plenty of lesser album tracks, but it remains odd that the opportunity of an anthology did not inspire Lucky Dog to put Lynne's non-LP chart singles "Under Your Spell Again" and "Don't Cross Your Heart" on disc or to select some of her better-known material. You can't help wondering whether parent label Sony denied Lucky Dog the right to use those songs, preferring to hold them for a Lynne release in its popular Super Hits or 16 Biggest Hits series. It's significant that this album is not billed as a "best-of"; what it really constitutes is "the rest of Shelby Lynne."


Born: 22 October 1968 in Quantico, VA

Genre: Country

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

By the time Shelby Lynne won her Best New Artist Grammy, she'd already completed six albums and had over a decade of recording experience under her belt. Yet in a way, the award was appropriate, since I Am Shelby Lynne was the album that finally found her taking control of her music, following years of casting about in search of an identity. Lynne's work ranged through country, blues, Southern soul, roots rock, Western swing, jazz, and adult contemporary pop; naturally, that eclecticism made her...
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