A conversation with Shelby Lynne is as enjoyable as listening to one of her records. She is engaging, playful and frank. Her phone voice is as charming as a slow ballad and her perspective on topics reveal a woman comfortable with her career, ability and legacy in the music business. Her new album, “Tears, Lies & Alibis” is her first on her new label and also finds her producing the new batch of songs. The results are undoubtedly determined and reflect an artist hell bent on creating songs that endure and also come together as a snapshot of her vision, not the record label or outside producer’s idea of a Shelby Lynne CD. As far as country tinged singer songwriter albums are concerned, this one is definitely a knock out. The Alabama bred chanteuse has crafted an album that stands as the first great offering of 2010. Rating this record with stars isn’t indicative of the versatility of the songs. I give it a boot in your ass and a soft kiss on your jaw line.
SIL.Your new record is out on your own label, Everso. How is that different from releasing your other records?
SL. It feels great to do it on my own label. I’m really geared up to do it, and it is my own baby.
SIL.The instrumentation on this record is clear as a bell. The music serves the lyrics well, and isn’t busy or in the way of the song.
SL. Thank you, I really agree. I like big production as well, but in my experience, it’s a much more attractive place to be to let the song breathe and find a comfortable spot.
SIL. As the label owner, how has it been different this time?
SL. There has been a lot more work, which I don’t mind doing. I’ve got great people working with me, with great business minds. So far, so good, I’ve been really happy with it. Everybody I’m talking to is thrilled that I’m doing it on my own. After this many years, I think it is the right time.
SIL. Why Everso?
SL. It kind of means everything. It means a comfortable place to be and create.
SIL. Can you tell me about “Why Didn’t You Call Me”?
SL. It means just what it says, why the hell didn’t you call me?
SIL. The next song on the record is “Like a Fool”. Is that a part two to “Why Didn’t You Call Me”? Or am I wrong about that?
SL. I think you’re dead on it. Sequencing a record is the hardest part, because the songs are all written at different times. You’ve got to figure the missing parts in the puzzle. Once you figure out the first song, it all starts to fall into place.
SIL. Could “Alibi” be the last piece of the trilogy of songs?
SL. I guess it could be.
SIL. The line from that song, “I just can’t wait to hear your alibi”, begs a question. Do you think the excuse will change the other person’s mind?
SL. No. That’s the most important part of the song. I think I’ve just heard your alibis for so long, I can’t take it anymore.
SIL. It seems to be prescient, with all the press that cheating men have garnered for themselves lately. It seems as if you wrote it to coincide with the problems that men have caused in their relationships.
SL. (Laughing) Well, has cheating ever been unpopular?
SIL. Good point. The bad part is that every time one of those guys gets caught, my wife gets all over my ass about it.
SL. She ought to. She has to keep you in line, man.
SIL. Fair enough, but I would think after twenty years of marriage I would get some credit. We went out for four years before that, beginning in 1986.
SL. Twenty years is a long time. We’re roughly the same age, that’s the year I graduated from high school. I got married in 1987.
SIL. We are about the same age. My wife shares a birthday with you, she was born a year later.
SL. It seems I’m getting older than everybody nowadays.
SIL. Regarding the song, “Something To Be Said”, is it reflective of growing up in Alabama?
SL. The line, “Over the hill, with a paper sack”, describes how I lived over the hill from my grandparents. When it got hot in the summertime, I would go to the top of the hill and yell for my granddad. He would come out of the house with a paper sack with a cold Coke and a can of Vienna sausages in it. We’d eat it and talk.
SIL. Describe the way you go about a music career as opposed to when you first started.
SL. Oh, God. After 22 years of doing it, the secret is to make records that you love, and other people will, too. And make sure that you work with people who really love music like you do. I know how hard it is to own and run a record store. It is so easy to get on a computer and get what you want. I know how hard it is to make a living in this business. But I also know how cool it is to go into a store and look at old records. It is hard, but I’m still around. That’s why I’m happy and proud.
SIL. Are you recognized more on the street as a musician or as Johnny Cash’s mother?
SL. Nobody knew that was me in the movie. That’s why I can still walk around.
SIL. Would you be interested in working on the other side of the camera?
SL. That’s just not me. But I do admire the people who can do it. The movie business is hard. There is so much detail involved. Producing your own record is somewhat like that, but I prefer that to be the extent of my technical ventures.
SIL. You wear a lot of name tags-artist, songwriter, touring performer, actress, label owner-what else interests you?
SL. Oh, I don’t know. I like to fish when I have the time, so I guess fisherman. I like to garden, it keeps me sane. I have one going right now. Other than that, I keep it simple. I’m a singer.
SIL. You are the author of one of my favorite lines, “You can’t roll a joint on an Ipod”.
SL. It’s true, you can’t!!
SIL. Is your album coming out on vinyl?
SL. It sure is. It comes out on vinyl the same day as the CDs.
SIL. Many thanks for your time, you’re awesome. And I love the new record.
SL. Thanks, I appreciate it.