Album Reviews

Shelby Lynne

I Can't Imagine

Artist:     Shelby Lynne

Album:     I Can't Imagine

Label:     Rounder

Release Date:     05/05/2015


Shelby Lynne is no stranger to the music world, with “I Can’t Imagine” being her 13th album, though she has yet to quite achieve true stardom. This is through no fault of her own. She possesses a magnificent, full-throated voice that has now matured, as she has mastered this invaluable instrument. Happily, she has also grown away from the ‘rebel country-songstress from Alabama’ that she was originally styled as, coming into her own as a songwriter and expanding her musical roots to embrace touches of R&B, blues and Southern soul. Her first-rate band, led by guitarist Ben Peeler, works with her perfectly.

These 10 new songs are deeply personal and clearly focused – the work of an artist now comfortable with and assured of her talent. The title song is a tightly hewn song about the impossibility of truly understanding and reaching another, no matter how much love is present (I can’t imagine what you’re feeling / I can’t imagine what’s been going on…). The splendid “Son of a Gun” is a brilliant tune about a migrant worker, “Hunkered down low / Under a bridge / The voice in my belly / Is my only friend.” But the album’s crown jewel is the opening cut, “Paper Van Gogh.” Powerful, emotional, profoundly personal and achingly beautiful, here, as throughout, it is her incredible voice that carries the day.

-Robert Myers

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