Shelby Lynne – I Can’t Imagine

Shelby Lynne "I Can't Imagine"Ever since her Grammy-winning album “I Am Shelby Lynne” (1999), I’ve been following her career right on to her latest “I Can’t Imagine” which came out last month.

“But Blue Is How I Paint Myself Today” she sings in the opening track “Paper Van Gogh” and even though most of her songs actually tend to be on the blue side, this wonderful, breezy cut with cozy background vocals and guitar-driven melody is a very strong and at the same time tender intro to this new 10-song collection. “Back Door Front Porch” is one of those sweaty southern country odes with additional backing vocals by Clarence Greenwood.

Shelby goes the Soul route on “Sold The Devil (Sunshine)”, a wonderfully sagging and swampy piece with Wurlitzer and electric guitar by co-writer Ben Peeler. Who is also prominently featured with various guitars on the Stevie Nicks-like “Son Of A Gun”, another brilliant track which is sort of schlepping the groove like the train she is singing of is schlepping itself through the prairie.

“Down Here” is too rocky for me. “Love Is Strong” is one of two songs she wrote together with Ron Sexsmith. Not really did it for me but the other one, “Be In The Now”, is the far stronger one with some great lyrics (“Never Mind The Rain It Only Means To Show You How To Be In The Now”). She wrote two songs with guitarist, pianist and vocalist Pete Donnelly who is featured on almost all tracks: “Better” a mysterious ballad and the title track, another one of those blue songs which follows the equally eerie “Following You” which has an intro by Leni Stern on the n’goni, a West African string instrument. But the best part of the album is her immortal phrase “I Play My Feelings On My Origami Harp” in “Paper Van Gogh”.


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