Her 1999 album I Am Shelby Lynne earned her a Grammy award for Best New Artist – granted, 13 years and six albums into her musical career – but ironically listeners are getting more of country singer-songwriter Shelby Lynne now than in that self-titled album.
She released her most recent album, Revelation Road, last month on Everso Records, her own record label. In addition to releasing the album herself, she wrote and recorded all the music on the 11-track release. The longtime guitarist also tried her hand at instruments like the mandolin and conga drums, adding another do-it-yourself element as she plays all the instruments heard on the album.
The album takes a closer look at the artist’s rural Alabama upbringing, and seems not to shy away from addressing a great tragedy in Lynne’s life: Her father shot her mother and himself, killing both parents of Lynne and her younger sister, fellow musician Allison Moorer. In “Heaven’s Only Days Down the Road,” Lynne delivers the stripped-down narrative of a man contemplating murder, wailing through the lyrics “Can’t blame the whiskey or my Mammy’s ways/Two little girls are better off this way.” The track closes on two percussive blasts.
Lynne has been touring the nation since late September to promote the album. She’ll be stopping at the Birchmere Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. to play through the album in a solo acoustic show. The News-Press spoke to Lynne before her performance about making her latest release.
LP: For Revelation Road, you were writer, musician, singer and producer. What was it like wearing all of those hats?
SL: It’s just excellent. It was the only way to do this record. It’s just a personal record. It was easy and relaxing. I enjoyed it.
LP: Was making a personal album a decision you made going into the writing process, or did it come more organically?
SL: It just kind of happened that way. “Revelation Road” was the first song I wrote, and it went from there. It turned into a record that represented a lot of my childhood growing up in Alabama, it kind of turned into that. Not all the songs are like that, but all of the songs just fit together.
LP: What was the writing and recording process like for this album?
SL: I usually go in the studio, where I have my own personal space where I record. I just write whenever the mood hits me. I have an idea for a song, and then I’ll hone in on it and make it as good as I can, to a point where I think it’s ready to be recorded. Then, I go in and start with a guitar and a vocal – or maybe this time I might start with drums – and then I just look around the room and decide what instruments to add a little bit at a time.
LP: How does having your own record label change the way you make music?
SL: There are no boundaries. I just do what I want – I do exactly what I want, when I want, and how I want. I have the freedom just to be a creative individual. It feels great.
LP: For this tour, you’ve decided to go solo and acoustic. Why is that?
SL: There is no other way to do it for this album. There is no way to have a band to play what I play on the record. And it’s easier. I enjoy just being one-on-one with the audience for this particular album, and they like it too.
LP: Do you find it difficult to perform songs from such a personal album on the stage?
SL: No. It’s what I do.
• For more information about Shelby Lynne visit shelbylynne.com.