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Cirque Du Soleil
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Julius Curcio
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"Come Alive"
Changing Into Me
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Spotlights [Issue # 15 ]
Shelby Lynne: Suits Herself

By Dean Truitt

In her 16-year recording career, Shelby Lynne has explored virtually every conceivable road musically and professionally. In that time, she has released nine CDs on five different labels and worked with a wide variety of producers.

She won a Best New Artist Grammy and a CMA Horizon Award. She has drawn enormous critical praise and her CDs have consistently sold impressive numbers. On her latest, Suit Yourself, Shelby Lynne has realized her first artistic masterpiece.    

The first ingredient for Lynne’s recent success lies in the fact that she took charge of the recording process. While the veteran artist has had the honor or working with legendary producers such as Glen Ballard (Alanis Morissette), the end result never seemed to reach her potential. On Suit Yourself, Lynne handles the production duties and the sound is a refreshing blast of energy.  

The album opens with the singer making casual remarks to the band and the familiar tone never ceases. Lynne acknowledges, “We just tried to take a simple approach [recording Suit Yourself]. Usually a song is talking to you if it’s just a song on a guitar and you add a little basil, a little garlic, and that kind of thing.” She elaborates that modern studio techniques have little interest to her. She laments, “I’m just tired of people hiding their emotions behind the big Pro Tools rig, you know. It’s so easy to make records anymore. It’s easier for me to do the old fashioned way.”      

The second aspect that makes the singer’s recent album so strong is the incredible lineup supporting her. With the likes of Tom Petty’s resident sideman Benmont Tench on keyboards, the former Wallflower Michael Wilton on guitar, and Brian “Brain” Harrison handling bass and engineering duties, Shelby Lynne has surrounded herself with a veteran group that has helped her reach further than any of her previous outings. The singer is quick to generously credit her band for the record’s success and beams, “I feel very proud of it and I love all my fellas that were helping me do it. They’re really truly brothers of mine and I’m not just saying that. We talk about what we’re doing after the show and make it fun. It’s a great group of fellas and I’m proud to know ‘em.”     

With any landmark album, the songs are ultimately the stars. Suit Yourself is filled with tracks that are instant classics. The song “Where Am I Now” has a conversational feel and tone reminiscent of John Prine or Bob Dylan’s early work. Lynne recalls, “I had written ‘Where Am I Now’ [the song title] down in my tablet and had wanted to experiment a little with different guitars. It changed chords quickly and was kind of an experiment, but then I realized that the meat of the song as far as the lyric goes was I guess I’m always wondering, ‘Where am I now?’ If you get too comfortable, you probably don’t know where you are anyway.”   

The song that will resonate deepest with Lynne’s country fan base is clearly the elegiac, “Johnny Met June,” which succinctly eulogizes the Man in Black on the day of his passing. The songwriter remembers, “The recording was as simple as this: I heard the news [that Johnny Cash had passed], I got up, and I wrote the song. I recorded it on my Studer [recording console] in my studio myself with a guitar and a vocal. I knew I wanted to put it on the record and flew the tapes to Nashville and had the fellas add onto it ‘cause I couldn’t duplicate or do better than the original vocal. So, I just decided to keep what I had.”  

Without a doubt, Shelby Lynne’s Suit Yourself will not only go down in the annals of music as a turning point in her maverick career, it will also stand as a monument of strength and profound beauty.

Suit Yourself

Suits Herself Shelby Lynne Suit Yourself

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