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 Lynnes 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 its
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, Im just tired of people hiding their
emotions behind the big Pro Tools rig, you know. Its so easy to make records
anymore. Its easier for me to do the old fashioned way.
The second aspect that makes the singers recent album so strong is the
incredible lineup supporting her. With the likes of Tom Pettys 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 records success and beams, I feel very proud
of it and I love all my fellas that were helping me do it. Theyre really
truly brothers of mine and Im not just saying that. We talk about what
were doing after the show and make it fun. Its a great group of
fellas and Im 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 Dylans
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 Im
always wondering, Where am I now? If you get too comfortable, you
probably dont know where you are anyway.
The song that will resonate deepest with Lynnes 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 couldnt duplicate or do better than the original vocal. So, I just decided
to keep what I had.
Without a doubt, Shelby Lynnes 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.