Shelby Lynne has always been ahead of her time. The cover for this eponymous album, her 13th solo album and first since 2015's "I Can't Imagine," appears to be another example of her prescience. Though it had to be put together long before the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, it shows her wearing a facial mask and a look of fear. Coincidence, no doubt, but an eerie one.
Don't worry though, this is not a collection of songs about social distancing and searching for Charmin. This album has its origins as a collaboration with Cynthia Mort, writer and director of the controversial 2016 biopic "Nina." Their movie, "When We Kill the Creators," has yet to find a distributor. Judging by the songs that came out of it, it's a good guess the film they made is not a romcom.
"Shelby Lynne" is an album of love songs, but not simple ones. These are deep and introspective ruminations on the subject. And they run the gamut from the reassuring "Here I Am" to mixtures with other less-pleasant emotions like on "Lovefear" where she sings "I would rather have a thousand men pointing guns at me / Than this lovefear running through my veins." On "Love is Coming" Lynne is not happy that the big L is on its way, she's angry that she didn't get a warning. Instrumentation for the most part is sparse allowing Lynne's lovely contralto voice to shine. On 6 of the 11 tracks, Lynne plays all the instruments.
This is not a party record by any means. It's the type of album you listen to alone or with a loved one, on a quiet night at home, ruminating on the past and looking forward to the future with equal parts hope and dread. It is, in short, the perfect record to listen to when you're sheltering in place.
Hey, maybe it wasn't a coincidence.