Shelby Lynne has had her professional ups and downs. She started strongly with her early Epic albums, but then her career got derailed in late '90s Nashville. 2000's "I Am Shelby Lynne" triumphantly reintroduced her and resulted in a Grammy, although Lynne stumbled somewhat with her follow-up "Love, Shelby." "Tears, Lies, And Alibis, " which follows up last year's well-received Dusty Springfield salute, "Just A Little Lovin'," finds her still soaring on a high note.
Lynne continues her Dusty vibe here with a soulful pop sound pervading "Tears"; however, she also has crafted a particularly compelling set of original songs that work wonderfully with her laidback, twilight/dawn arrangements. The disc opens with its jauntiness number, Rains Came, a boppy tune that vividly describes how "the dark side of me seems to like how it feels when it's pouring."
The blues she touches on in Rains Came well up throughout. She touches on relationships woes on the torchy tracks, Alibi and Why Didn't You Call Me?" This twosome borders Norah Jones territory, only with a grittier quality. In the similar vein is Like A Fool, which holds a particularly resonating line: "There's always bliss and happiness/Love is blind/But I will see/Like a fool." Fool also boasts Lynn's signature, gorgeous vocals - powerful yet not overpowering, honey sweet and worldly wise. Her singing is especially sultry on Something To Be Said, a love song to an unusual subject - an Airstream camper that's "like a Van Gogh or an old Picasso/oh what a sight to see."
Lynne did the basic recording at her home studio, and there's an appealing intimacy to this disc. Its low-key sound enhances the album's personal feel. The earthy Old Dog, a search for peace of mind that recalls Aussie singer-songwriter Paul Kelly, features Lynne simply picking acoustic guitars and singing with sideman Val McCullum. However, she also fills out the songs with subtle but effective touches. A mandola as well as a clarinet are used to created the rich atmospherics in Rain Came. A banjo gives a light bluegrass feel to the outro in Family Tree, while the subtle steel guitar and floaty background vocals lend a haunting quality to Loser Dreamer.
"Tears, Lies, And Alibis" might not be as dynamic a disc as "I Am," but its alluring mood, straight-from-the-heart emotions and Lynne's marvelous voice makes this a thoroughly captivating album.