Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

Shelby Lynne 

Saturday, October 25; Off Broadway

When the Grammy Awards tapped Shelby Lynne for "Best New Artist" in 2000, they nailed a metaphorical truth. The Alabama native had been making records for over a decade, but with I Am Shelby Lynne she overturned a conventional country career like a messiah toppling temples of sin.

Spectral rock 'n' roll glory met holy southern soul, and Lynne sang like she held the key to the cosmos. Rarely have the spiritual aims of high art been so gorgeously fused with the guiltless pleasures of popular culture.

And then Lynne threw it all away. From the teen-porn tease of its album art, to the alt-rock guitar bombast, to the flimsy lyrical formula, her follow-up album, Love, Shelby, was as clunky, overbearing and inefficient as a lot full of Hummers. Aiming for mainstream largesse, Lynne landed an incoherent collection that made Clear Channel programming sound avant-garde. Any listener could find more exhilarating pop music in five seconds of I Am Shelby Lynne.

Sometimes spare and figural as a sketchbook, sometimes glistening with strings and spiraling harmonies, her newest record, the self-produced Identity Crisis is her third release in as many years and a truly personal and potent successor to her nouveaux country-soul vision. Not since John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band (Lynne frequently performs Lennon's "Mother") has psychotherapy sounded so haunting, so essential: "Bold with crazy have no fear/Children cry and then I hear/The message my lies tell me in my dreams." Few on the country, pop or rock scenes have ever written songs as frightening and fetching as Lynne has. And no other singer today would dare sing them from the depths of the fever dream that, thankfully, she refuses to extinguish.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Latest in Critics' Picks

Read the Digital Print Issue

July 28, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2021 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation