I Am Shelby Lynne
If this is what happens when singers get out of Nashville, then more of them ought to make the leap. It's certainly worked wonders for Shelby Lynne, who went back to her Alabama roots to write the songs for this extraordinary album. Sidestepping country, the disc instead captures the essence of sweet southern soul. Lynne is an immensely gifted singer, and she sounds as if she's channeling Dusty Springfield or Aretha Franklin on simmering soul cuts like "Leavin'" and the breathlessly seductive standout "Dream Some." She's well complemented by Bill Bottrell, whose production work delicately walks the line between big Phil Spector-like echoes ("Your Lies"), tasty pop ("Gotta Get Back"), and raw, gutsy, slide-fueled fare such as "Life Is Bad." Released overseas in late 1999, the disc's U.S. debut is a welcome one and has the potential for major crossover appeal.