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Music Review: Shelby Lynne – Just A Little Lovin’

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Just A Little Lovin’ finds Lynne taking on songs from Dusty Springfield’s 1969 classic, Dusty in Memphis. Ranked number 89 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the top 500 albums of all time in 2005, Dusty in Memphis is considered by many (including me), to be one of the greatest R&B records of all time. Needless to say, Lynne gave herself some big shoes to fill.

From the first note of “Just A Little Lovin'” it becomes clear that Ms. Lynne has done Dusty proud. Shelby sings every note with every ounce of emotion her body can muster. Phil Ramone, best known for his production work on albums by artists such as Billy Joel, Paul Simon, and Barbra Streisand has created a slow, acoustic atmosphere for Just A Little Lovin’ instead of the Soul/R&B infusion that dominates Dusty in Memphis. The choice to strip Just A Little Lovin’ of heavy instrumentation is a strong one. This allows Lynne’s emotionally charged vocals to shine through.

“Breakfast in Bed,” “The Look of Love,” and “Anyone Who Had a Heart” are all standout tracks. Accompanied primarily by just a guitar, Lynne is left to sing the raw emotions of the songs, frailties and all. While listening to all the songs on Just A Little Lovin’, I couldn’t help but be repeatedly struck by the sparseness of the albums arrangements. Though most of the songs are Dusty Springfield classics, she chose not to include the most radio friendly of all, “Son of a Preacher Man.” The song lacks the deep, core emotions of the others, perhaps explaining its exclusion. Lynne seems more interested in laying her emotions to bear on Just A Little Lovin’ than making a carbon copy of Dusty in Memphis.

Lynne’s own composition, “Pretend” is a look at the compromises necessary to make real love last. She sounds like a woman who has been through a few tough relationships, but still has hope she’ll find that right person.

In this age of manufactured pop stars and hits, Shelby Lynne has been around the block a few times. On her tenth album Just A Little Lovin’, Lynne is taking a serious look at what it takes to succeed at love. Along the way, she’s done Dusty Springfield proud.

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