Review: 'I Can't Imagine,' Shelby Lynne Music commentator Meredith Ochs reviews the new album by singer Shelby Lynne, I Can't Imagine.
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Review: 'I Can't Imagine,' Shelby Lynne

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Review: 'I Can't Imagine,' Shelby Lynne

Review

Music Reviews

Review: 'I Can't Imagine,' Shelby Lynne

Review: 'I Can't Imagine,' Shelby Lynne

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Music commentator Meredith Ochs reviews the new album by singer Shelby Lynne, I Can't Imagine.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Singer Shelby Lynne has been navigating the highs and lows of the music industry for a long time. When she won a Grammy for best new artist in 2001, she'd been making records for more than a decade. Meredith Ochs has this review of Lynne's thirteenth album called "I Can't Imagine."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PAPER VAN GOGH")

SHELBY LYNNE: (Singing) I threw these colors down in a fit of rage. My feelings hardly fit onto the page. Cloudy memories make for darker grays, but blue is how I paint my mood today.

MEREDITH OCHS, BYLINE: With her voice alone, Shelby Lynne conveys a devastating spectrum of feelings - the pain of lost love and loneliness delivered in sweet, sultry tones. Add steel guitar and wide, open arrangements, as she does on her new album, and she turns emotional confusion into something so achingly beautiful that you don't want it to end.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I CAN'T IMAGINE")

LYNNE: (Singing) The road out of here is golden omen now. Wait out the moon in this riverbed tonight. I can't imagine how you're feeling. I can't imagine what's been going on.

OCHS: Though her music feels expressive and personal, Shelby Lynne tends to keep her lyrics oblique and her private life private. But she often draws on imagery from her Southern upbringing, and songs like this one are particularly evocative. Her economy of language is remarkable. With just a few words, Lynne expresses the disorienting feeling of transition, being stuck in between the place you came from and the place you're bound for.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BACK DOOR FRONT PORCH")

LYNNE: (Singing) Blacktop highways, ain't a soul in sight for miles. I'm driving blind. I know it like the back of my abandoned mind. Homesick like this has got to be a sorry crime, a waste of time. But I always go back in my mind to back door, front porch, window...

OCHS: Like Dusty Springfield, one of her musical heroes, Shelby Lynne's voice balances perfectly between vulnerability and defiance. Her heart can crack open in a song, but underneath runs a current of strength and ferocious independence. This is more palpable than ever on her new album, like in this song about a girl who can sell sunshine to the devil. Maybe that's a metaphor for dealing with the music industry, maybe not. But it's that core strength that Lynne has shown throughout her career - always making music by her own standards, always knowing herself better than anyone else could. It's the thing that makes her not just a great singer, but a great artist.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOLD THE DEVIL - SUNSHINE")

LYNNE: (Singing) We sold the devil a dash of sunshine...

SIEGEL: The latest album from Shelby Lynne is called "I Can't Imagine." Meredith Ochs is a talk show host and DJ at SiriusXM Radio.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOLD THE DEVIL - SUNSHINE")

LYNNE: (Singing) Oh, we all on this planet, we arm in arm as we touch...

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