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Album review: Shelby Lynne's 'Revelation Road'

October 18, 2011 |  8:26 am

Album review: Shelby Lynne's 'Revelation Road'

This is as completely solo an effort as is humanly possible, short of firebrand singer-songwriter Shelby Lynne hand-delivering each copy to those who buy it. She wrote, sang, played all the instruments and produced the album, and in this case, it’s no idle affection or ego display. Her songs chart a harrowing path through solitude, isolation, alienation, abandonment and murder-suicide, topics Lynne has been forced to learn all too thoroughly.

On previous releases, she has flirted with facets of the childhood tragedy in her past; she and her younger sister, singer-songwriter Allison Moorer, were at home when their father shot their mother to death, then turned the gun on himself. But she’s never tackled it such a head-on way and in such astonishing depth as she does on “Revelation Road,” a pathway that doesn’t reach understanding so much as acceptance out of absolute necessity.

Many of the songs are oblique explorations of a plethora of emotions born of the legacy of violence, sculpted with her soulful, Dusty Springfield-influenced vocals. One upshot is the inevitability of failed relationships. At the same time, it’s hardly all bleak. “I’ll Hold Your Head” is as reassuring a commitment of comfort as one person can offer another. Tension builds as the album progresses, reaching a haunting but not exploitative climax in “Heaven’s Only Days Down the Road,” in which she attempts to get inside the head of someone who commits an incomprehensible act.

She concludes, however, with “I Won’t Leave You,” a heartbreakingly gorgeous ballad in which she sings of love transcending even the most difficult life circumstances. And that’s the revelation.

Shelby Lynne 
“Revelation Road” (Everso Records)
Three stars (out of four) 

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-- Randy Lewis

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