Shelby Lynne: A 'Revelation' With An Exceptional Voice | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : Fresh Air

Filed Under:

Shelby Lynne: A 'Revelation' With An Exceptional Voice

Play associated audio

If the title of her new album is a tad portentous, Shelby Lynne is determined to make precisely detailed mood music, not a succession of revelatory moments, throughout Revelation Road. That's ultimately what gives the album its strength. It's underpinned with sturdy melodies, the occasional bright image and, above all else, Lynne's exceptional voice, which cuts across every song with a sharp, slicing motion.

Lynne's voice is so strong, it's carried her over a career of uneven albums. She began that career firmly in country music territory, recording a duet with George Jones that led to Jones' producer, Billy Sherrill, producing her debut album in 1989. Since that time, however, Lynne has proven to be restless, rebellious and, it seems to an outsider, unsure of or frustrated by her musical identity. Fast forward to today, which finds Lynne making albums on her own label, called Everso Records. She's written, produced and played everything on Revelation Road, and the music is expansive enough to include a torchy pop ballad called "Lead Me Love."

The early part of Lynne's career was defined by a real-life tragedy: When she was 17, Lynne's father murdered her mother and killed himself. Thus, she and her younger sister, the singer Allison Moorer, were left orphaned. After a while, Lynne grew understandably tired of answering interviewers' questions about the event, but on the new album, she's written a startlingly direct song about it, composed from the point of view of her father as he loads his gun. It's called "Heaven's Only Days Down the Road."

As she says in the title of another song here, Shelby Lynne has never needed a reason to cry. The achievement of Revelation Road is that this attitude rarely curdles into self-pity or even repetition. Sure, some of the songs here are thin, both in the quality of their metaphors and their arrangements — there are times when you wish she could have used a band behind her, to give the songs some volume in every sense. But for the most part, Revelation Road reminded me once again why I'll continue to listen to everything Lynne puts out. Her voice is an extraordinary instrument, deployed with great shrewdness and delicacy.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

The World Music Education of Philip Glass

In his new memoir, Music Without Words, the composer explains how a chance meeting with Ravi Shankar sparked a fascination with the cultures of the world and their music.
NPR

PepsiCo Swaps Diet Drink's Aspartame For Other Artificial Sweeteners

The company says Diet Pepsi consumers are concerned about aspartame. But the Food and Drug Administration has long affirmed that the sweetener is safe in amounts commonly used by beverage companies.
NPR

8 Obama Jokes That Stood Out From The White House Correspondents Dinner

Every year, the president sits down for dinner with Washington reporters and delivers a stand-up routine. From his "bucket list" to Hillary Clinton, here's what he came up with this year.
NPR

As Health Apps Hop On The Apple Watch, Privacy Will Be Key

The notion of receiving nutrition advice from artificial intelligence on your wrist may seem like science fiction. But health developers are betting this kind of behavior will become the norm.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.