Shelby Lynne has always treated country music like a stain that she just can't wash out. After five albums of Nashville-approved hoedowns and ham-fisted ballads, in 1998 she finally made the break into mainstream, Grammy-winning MOR. The rest should be a Dolly Parton-inspired fairy tale, except, now unsatisfied, Lynne has decided country needs her. That she has called this album Identity Crisis shows a grasp of insight sadly lacking on any of its self-penned songs.
American popular music has a long tradition of remarkable artists who slip through the cracks of easy categorization despite deep roots in the soil that nourishes their musical visions. Shelby Lynne’s music is like a map of the rivers and streams that flow through the heart of American music: on her new album, Identity Crisis, country, soul, blues, gospel, and vintage rock‘n’roll flow together in a way that’s refreshingly free of artifice, self-consciousness, or calculation. Those who have followed Lynne’s fascinating – and sometimes frustrating – musical history will appreciate full well the irony and truth to be found in the title Identity Crisis.