SHELBY LYNNE - TEARS, LIES, AND ALIBIS and MERRY CHRISTMAS
Lynne returns with a couple of discs for the fans, seemingly much more at ease now that she's self-producing and releasing her own work. Her two-decade career has seen her battle record labels and genre labels, people eager to place her in a category and aim her at a larger audience. But Lynne is a notoriously tough cookie, and her bluesy country-soul doesn't fit formats. It does, however, fit your ears just fine. On her new studio disc, written and directed all by herself, she's able to relax into the smokey and bittersweet tales at which she excels. It's mostly lightly adorned acoustic music, guitar songs you can tell were beautiful on their own, now lightly layered with the right kind of moody backgrounds. While there's some optomism and good humour on the first cut, Rains Came, that quickly falls away with Southern songs of alibis, unreturned calls, old dogs, and booze taking over. Old #7 would be a perfect George Jones song.
Unfortunately Lynne falls for that old standby, the Christmas record. Apart from a couple of okay new ones she penned herself, it's all the usual numbers here, Rudolph, Silent Night, White Christmas, yadda yadda. Even though she owns one of the great female voices of our day, there's not much life in the acoustic blues treatment given the songs. The disc is too low key, and it sounds like she'd rather celebrate by herself, or cry into a stiff egg nog.