Suit Yourself

Suit Yourself

3.5 2
by Shelby Lynne
Following the elaborate production on her blue-eyed soul classic, I Am Shelby Lynne, and 2003's Identity Crisis, Shelby Lynne does a 180 on Suit Yourself by adopting a casual, rustic, acoustic-based basic band approach. Consequently, one of the best vocalists around has never


Following the elaborate production on her blue-eyed soul classic, I Am Shelby Lynne, and 2003's Identity Crisis, Shelby Lynne does a 180 on Suit Yourself by adopting a casual, rustic, acoustic-based basic band approach. Consequently, one of the best vocalists around has never sounded so immediate, so vulnerable, or so alluring. This Grammy-winning performer can still slice and dice a faithless lover with the best of 'em ("You Don't Have a Heart"), but this time out she seems to be finding love and satisfaction in all the right places, whether it be in a new prospect (the funky "Go With It") or a familiar paramour ("Iced Tea"). She also takes time to wax nostalgic about one of the great romances of our time, in the lilting, Bobbie Gentry–like "Johnny Met June," written on the day Lynne heard of Johnny Cash's death. She brings in her buddy Tony Joe White to play guitar and harmonica, then covers a couple of his well-turned tunes: "Old Time's Sake" and the enduring "Rainy Night in Georgia." On the latter (which is listed as "Track 12"), Lynne cooks up a heady, slow-boiling soul stew, suggesting both Brook Benton's original gem and Conway Twitty and Sam Moore's deeply felt duet version. The band includes the impeccable Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench, the Wallflowers' Michael Ward on guitar, pedal steel virtuoso Robby Turner, and Lynne's favorite co-conspirator, Brian "Brain" Harrison, on bass; these players support Lynne with affecting, minimalist stylings, ranging from folk-flavored to southern soul to country blues, all rendered with impressive restraint and lots of heart. Laid-back though it be, Suit Yourself kicks like a mule, bites like a crocodile.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Shelby Lynne has been seeking the place inside her music where everything cracks and opens for over a decade. From her Columbia Records debut, she has been writing and singing songs that seek to get underneath themselves and communicate something of the wildness, ambiguity, and emotional depth that is in the grain of her voice. Suit Yourself is a self-produced, loose, organic set of 12 new songs, ten of them originals. Suit Yourself is intimate. Recorded at home and in Nashville, Lynne 's original vocal and guitar demos were used on a part of the album, and she recorded the rest as her band played live from the floor on the Nashville tracks. That band includes Brian "Brain" Harrison on bass (and who mixed the set with Lynne); the Heartbreakers' Benmont Tench on keyboards, pedal steel and mandolin; dobro boss Robby Turner; guitarist Michael Ward; Bryan Owings on drums, and legendary swamp rock guitarist and songwriter Tony Joe White. The feel of these songs is quiet, loose, relaxed, and very immediate. Sounds of ice tinkling in glasses, private conversations, session directions, encouragement, and all manner of whispers and laughter shimmy through the grooves here -- but these informal moments, which seem to exist outside the songs -- inform them the most. The up-tempo, rocking R&B that kicks everything off on "Go With It" is preceded by a conversation and a broken take of the bridge. When the song begins in earnest, Lynne and her band take no prisoners. The guitars ring and shimmer playing staccato against the rhythm section. It's followed by the slow, simmering acoustic paean "Where Am I Now" that feels like it could have been written by a Zen Master: ."..Telling's just talking that turns into speeches/Doesn't aid the body with the hand that reaches/Stumble in the void to find there's no one there." "I Cry Everyday" fuses R&B and country-soul like the strands of a cord wrapped around Lynne's voice. Likewise the slippery, back-porch blues rag of "You're the Man" that feels like an open sky on a summer day. The personal manifesto at the heart of "I Won't Die Alone" is one of the finest songs Lynne has ever written, full of resilience fueled by a shuffling rock & roll rhythm, pulsed by brushes on snare and tom-toms in a near military march. And then there's "Johnny Met June," a speculative love song like no other -- it serves as both an elegy and a hymn for the possible, where acoustic guitars ring softly at first, reflectively, but as her tale of sorrow unfolds it transforms itself into a song that is virtually instructive in its meditation on death and reunion; it's full of joy placing love outside the realm of the time-space continuum. Lynne and band also cover a pair of Tony Joe White's tunes. There's a whispering version of his broken-heart ballad "Old Time' Sake," that in Lynne's voice becomes an entirely new song. And then there's the uncredited final track (titled "Track 12"): a cover of "Rainy Night in Georgia," that contains all the passion, elegance and restraint Lynne can muster, proving once again her masterful ability as an interpreter. It's smoky, bluesy, low-lit, and simmers with a passion that bubbles just under the surface of the tune. Suit Yourself is aptly named, Lynne dressed herself this time out with great players and finely wrought songs, and put it all together on her own. This is her finest moment yet.

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Suit Yourself 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not as fun or as powerful as "Identity Crisis," but it's good to hear who Shelby Lynne really is as an artist.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago