Shelby Lynne first took the stage (on top of table – placed there by her daddy) at just 3 1/2 years old at a Shakey’s Pizza Parlor in Alabama. She hasn’t left it since. Shelby didn’t even need a soundcheck last night. She took the stage, grabbed her acoustic guitar and told the crowd that she was nervous…waited a few beats for comic timing and said “I haven’t sung since yesterday,” to which the audience at Apogee’s Berkeley Street Studios laughed and were eating out of her hands for the rest of the night.
As a singer, Shelby has always been raw and honest but now, in her early 40’s, she’s taking it to the next level. She’s seen a lot of turmoil in her life, growing up in a little town that’s “nothing but a zip code”, but she’s made her peace with it all and her past is the focus of her new album “Revelation Road”.
She played the album in full for a small crowd of invited guests for a session taped to air on Morning Becomes Eclectic on February 6 and elicited laughs many times throughout the evening.
Shelby also brought me close to tears a few times, especially with “I’ll Hold Your Head”, a song she says “is as much a part of me as the skin I’m wearing”. It’s about riding in the car with her mom and her “sissy” (singer Alison Moorer) and singing three-part harmonies on the way to school.
Though they’re both still singing, you won’t find them on a stage together, with Shelby telling host KCRW DJ Anne Litt that “it’s like putting the sun and moon on the stage. It doesn’t work.”
It’s incredible to think that Shelby has now been making records for 23 years. She talked about her early experience in Nashville and that she went there because she “wanted to be Tammy Wynette.” But alas they wanted to make her a country pop star and she’s “not much for gloss.” The Grammy winner even went so far as to say “I don’t want a hit – hits aren’t very good.” With one exception. When asked about a song she wished she’d written, she quickly replied “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley.
She made a point to say she doesn’t regret any of her decisions (or, as she put it, “there’s not a damn thing I’m mad about”). Shelby also talked about the story she hoped wouldn’t define her career — the fact that her father shot her mother and then turned the gun on himself. She said she’s made peace with it all and even wrote the song “Heaven’s Only Days Down the Road” from her father’s perspective, as a dead man.
Just when you thought her work couldn’t get any more confessional, there it is.
She ended the session perfectly with “Iced Tea“, a track off her 2005 album “Suit Yourself“, making everyone in the audience sigh with glee and bringing it all back to love with these lines:
“There’s no better place to be than in your eyes.
There’s no other sight to see
You’re the cornbread and iced tea of life.
You feel like the only home I’ve ever known
And I am shown tonight
Oh how I’m shown
Shelby Lynne on KCRW Set List
Lead Me Love
Woe Be Gone
I”ll Hold Your Head
I Don’t Need a Reason to Cry
I Want Go Back
Like a Thief
Toss it All Aside
Heaven”s Only Days Down The Road
I Won’t Leave You