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Nobody tells Shelby Lynne what to sing

Turner Hall Ballroom, Milwaukee, Wisc., May 2, 2010

Reviewed by Andy Turner

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It's hard to imagine these days anyone telling Shelby Lynne what to sing. Early in her 20-year-plus career, she only recorded songs written by other songwriters, and it wasn't until a few albums into her career that Lynne began to pen her songs.

Her latest effort, "Tears, Lies, and Alibis," couldn't be any more different from those Epic years. She wrote all 10 songs by herself, produced them on her own and released the album on her newly created record label, Everso Records.

Not that there's been any question of Lynne's independence for quite some time, but witnessing her in concert quickly reminds you of her undeniably distinctive and defiant nature.

She opened with the same songs that open "Tears, Lies, and Alibis": the upbeat Rains Came, which was performed with a little extra punch; the slinky and short Why Didn't You Call Me; and Like a Fool, one of the best songs on the new album and one she nails live as well.

Both Alibi and the drinking ode Old #7 from her latest also sounded great with Lynne's soaring, soulful vocals. She introduced the nostalgic Something To Be Said About Airstreams as a song that shows "how I feel about my country."

Introducing Buttons and Beaus from "Identity Crisis," Lynne commented that some songs you don't know where they come from, but she knew exactly where this song originated, before forcefully launching into the memorable opening lines: "Your mama's a whore / Your daddy's dead."

If any audience members were shocked, they were certainly silenced with her excellent, late night take of Black Light Blue.

Lynne was drum-lessly and flawlessly backed by guitarist John Jackson and Brian Harrison on bass.

British singer Findlay Brown opened the show in charming fashion with a clear tenor and simple, but soulful songs.