Lost Record of the Week: Shelby Lynne, Just a Little Lovin’
It was hard to give up this album, especially when it calmed me down during a rather insane week, so I took an extra day to listen to it some more. Again I had this experience of feeling a little “meh” about it through the first couple of listens, but developing an increasing attachment to it over the week. It’s going to be hard to move on to the next album.
I’ve liked Lynne’s music for awhile—I remember being hooked on Love, Shelby around the time it came out, and I enjoyed Suit Yourself too. But I knew I had to get this particular one because of my recent fascination with Dusty Springfield, Lynne’s inspiration for the album. I vaguely recall buying it when it was released in 2008 and maybe having time to listen to it once, and possibly being influenced by lukewarm reviews, but I could be wrong about all of that. In any case, it was waiting patiently on my shelf when I returned to it this week.
Where Springfield is all bombast, Lynne is all subtle, seductive torch. The album rarely breaks out of the groove established on the first (title) track. I confess to being someone who believes she is Dusty Springfield’s equal when nobody but the cat can hear me sing (and I’m pretty sure the cat disagrees with that). Her songs subjects, oscillating between torturous heartbreak and romantic dalliance, provide some awesome material when you come home from a long day, drink three beers, and want to start a-crooning. Lynne therefore had some great material to work with, but also pretty big shoes to fill.
Like some of her virtuosic colleagues (I’m thinking k.d. lang), Lynne proves to be a masterful interpreter. In avoiding the grandiosity of Springfield’s delivery and arrangements, resorting instead to subdued singing and sparse acoustic accompaniments, Lynne creates a new standard for these classics. Her choice of songs, “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “The Look of Love,” and “How Can I Be Sure,” strays slightly from the Springfield canon that now quickly calls to mind the plight of the independent but slightly lonely single girl (“Wishin’ and Hopin,’” “I Just Don’t Know What to do with Myself,” “ All Cried Out”), highlighting the richness of Springfield’s material.
At the same time, Lynne does a commendable job of sustaining Springfield’s obvious abandon and delight for flirtation. Indeed, the album is a nice backdrop to a steamy date, for those looking for a good soundtrack, and the song choices—“Just a Little Lovin,’” “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” “Breakfast in Bed,”—don’t necessarily encourage long-term commitment. Lynne’s vocal delivery is solidly in her own style, with carefully articulated phrases, minimal ornamentation, and measured vibrato, all of which underpin the beauty of songs by writers like Burt Bacharach, Cynthia Weil, and Randy Newman. The single track written by her, “Pretend,” is integrated seamlessly among the covers.
Yeah, good album.