Only a little bit country
Despite her time-toughened twang and tunes about loneliness, betrayal and the road, Shelby Lynne is country only by association. A Nashville veteran who made five industry albums in the 90s, she hit it big only after leaving town and is now the proud owner of her own label, with many styles at her command: gritty southern soul, grittier folk and blues and—very unexpectedly—power-pop.
“Rains Came,” which opens her 11th album, Tears, Lies & Alibis, struts along like Cheap Trick gone acoustic, but sad-hearted laments like “Loser Dreamer” and “Home Sweet Home” prove her songwriting is as strong as her vocals. She even works her acting chops: On “Alibi,” her spoken-word phrasing lends the song a pointed disdain, rendering her album persona a nearly unsympathetic character. Lynne has always been a commanding vocalist, and age has only sharpened her delivery and given her more to sing about.