Shelby Lynne is a restless artist. That’s why despite the fact that I’ve seen her perform on a number of occasions, and she’s on my permanent “don’t miss” list, I never have to worry that I’m going to be seeing the same thing that I’ve seen before. For her most recent tour Lynne, who has performed solo on her last few tours, enlisted the solid support of guitar and dobro player Ben Peeler, and bassist Ed Maxwell.
I am a fan of each of Lynne’s albums of original songs, beginning with her classic statement of intent I Am Shelby Lynne, which was released in 1999. That said, I have a particular fondness for Lynne’s 10th studio album, Just A Little Lovin’, which was released in 2008. The album was recorded as a tribute to Dusty Springfield, and featured cover versions of nine songs that Springfield made popular.
The nature of the songs on Just A Little Lovin’, two of which were written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, is such that they are difficult to reproduce on stage by a solo artist armed only with an acoustic guitar. On her last tour Lynne chose to address this issue by performing a stunning a cappella version of “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.” This time out, with the two added musicians, Lynne was able to address several of the album’s songs, and the results were remarkable. “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” was back, but this time in a more fully formed version, and there were also revelatory takes on “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” and “I Only Want to Be With You.”
The cover songs were hardly the only highlights of the evening though. Potent performances of Lynne’s owns songs ranged from “Your Lies,” which appeared on I Am Shelby Lynne, to “Call Me Up” from her 2013 EP Thanks. Other standouts included powerful takes on “Jesus on a Greyhound” and “Killin’ Kind” from 2001’s Love, Shelby, and stirring renditions of “Johnny Met June” from Suit Yourself, which was released in 2005, and “I’ll Hold Your Head” which appeared on Lynn’s last full-length album, Revelation Road, in 2011.
Shelby Lynne is a role model (although she would probably take me to task for saying so) for what an independent artist should be. She is also one of the most fearless songwriters you’re ever likely to encounter. In short, she wanted to do it her way, and she is most decidedly doing that. All of these things make her worthy of support, but in the end it’s the music that will remain in your heart, and on your mind. And that’s just the way she wants it to be.
These fan-shot videos were created by Bob Sheldon at the Narrows performance.