Sometimes singer-songwriter Shelby Lynne tells her stories in clear and precise terms so that one clearly understands the characters, setting, and situation. Other times, she writes vague and symbolic tales where what gets disclosed seems to have a supernatural connection. The superficial features hide something deeper. That’s what the word “revelation” from the title song, “Revelation Road”, is about.
Revelation Road is singer and songwriter Shelby Lynne's third self-released recording in two years. She wrote, produced, and performed every note on this set solo -- a first for her. While her songs have always been confessional, the 11 tracks featured here -- composed in a variety of genres but all of them more or less comfortably ensconced within Americana's broad brush stroke -- are more intimate than anything she's issued previously.
Since rebooting her career with the Grammy-winning I Am Shelby Lynne, Shelby Lynne has rarely unleashed the huge, evocative alto or made use of the peerless interpretive skills that were her calling cards during her stint as a country singer. But on Revelation Road, her third studio album in under two years, there are a handful of moments when Lynne lets the full power of her instrument take center stage. It’s the range Lynne brings back into her repertoire that elevates Revelation Road above its otherwise tepid Americana trappings.
Virginia-born Lynne seems unable to settle on a place for her considerable vocal gifts. Since escaping Nashville's production line a decade back, she's tried on the roles of Americana songwriter and rock chick and cut a Dusty Springfield tribute. On the self-produced Revelation Road she's gone minimalist and acoustic, most of its songs documenting the pain of lost love, veering between southern soul ("Even Angels") and MOR country ("The Thief").
The closest Lynne has got to where she should always have been. Andrew Mueller 2011 On her 12-album-long tramp to Revelation Road, Shelby Lynne has tried on – or been trussed up in – a bewildering array of personas, from the big-haired Nashville ingénue of her first records, to the pugnacious, critically revered Americana songwriter of the late 90s, to – on 2008’s eccentric and lovely Just a Little Lovin’ – a pop chanteuse paying reverent homage to the hits of Dusty Springfield. The title of 1999’s breakthrough I Am Shelby Lynne notwithstanding, Revelation Road seems Lynne's most earnest attempt to unveil the real her.