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Shelby Lynne 

Just a Little Lovin' (Lost Highway)

Wednesday, Jan 23 2008
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Covers albums — especially ones paying homage to a record as canonical as Dusty Springfield's Dusty in Memphis — are tricky to navigate. The new version can't be too similar to the original, or it's obviated. Change it too much, though, and diehard fans will cry blasphemy. Nonetheless, Shelby Lynne took on the challenge of offering her vision of Dusty, encouraged by a suggestion from none other than Barry Manilow.

Over ten tracks, Lynne revisits highlights from the British soul diva's classic album, including "Breakfast in Bed" and "Willie and Laura Mae Jones," plus older numbers like "Anyone Who Had a Heart" and "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" — but she wisely omits the one tune that really shouldn't be messed with: "Son of a Preacher Man." Where Springfield's strings, horns, and girlish backing vocals fixed her sound in the warm sheen of her era, Lynne's sparser arrangements (guitar, piano, and light drums) seem simultaneously updated and timeless. Like Springfield's, Lynne's voice comes on strong, but pooling beneath that husky first thrust is a darkness, a frailty crackling around the edges. A similar mix of resignation and hopeful romanticism permeates the sweetly sad "Pretend," the lone Lynne original, which fits in seamlessly with the rest of this collection. Doing a covers record well takes a special kind of humility: Balancing reverence with a quiet intimacy, Lynne does right by Springfield.

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Maya Kroth

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