The cover of Shelby Lynne's new CD, "Tears, Lies & Alibis"
The Dakota was the perfect place for Shelby Lynne. “At least for this album,” she told me after her lusciously laidback, spellbinding performance Saturday night.
This album is “Tears, Lies & Alibis,” which will be released this week on her own Everso label. It’s an acoustic album that sounds like a collection of demos. At the Dakota, she was accompanied only by her own acoustic guitar, Brian Harrison’s electric bass and John Jackson’s expressive array of guitars and dobros.
Dressed in black with her blonde hair in an up, kind of bedhead do, Lynne opened with the first five songs, in order, from her new album. Later in the evening, she added two more tunes from the CD. Even though it was unfamiliar material, the audience was hanging on her every word.
Yes, it was downbeat stuff, whether southern soul, country blues or jazz/blues. That’s what you expect from this 41-year-old princess of pain. Even though she doesn’t have the biggest vocal range, she delivers her lyrics with heartfelt depth and remarkable nuance.
On the new “Loser Dreamer,” which she dedicated to every musician she’s ever known (including Al Kooper, the Forrest Gump of rock who was sitting in the audience), she repeated the phrase “dream on” over and over, and each time it resonated differently because of her inflection, phrasing and attitude.
Lynne, who has recorded 11 studios albums and won a Grammy for best new artist in mid-career (2000),  delivered several older tunes, as well. By request, she offered something from her superb 2008 Dusty Springfield tribute – “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” with a less-is-more arrangement, including going downbeat instead of wailing on the “release me’s.”
At 80 minutes, the set seemed short but not unsatisfying. When it was over, I felt that Lynne, who wrote almost all the material in her program, should be as famous and highly regarded as Americana queen Lucinda Williams, and, by year’s end, I’m confident that Lynne's Dakota gig will be on my list of best concerts of 2010.
Opening the evening was buzzed-about British newcomer Findlay Brown, who can’t decide if Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison or Buddy Holly is his most important influence. In a half-hour of solo acoustic tunes, the pompadoured singer could not transcend his influences.
Here is Lynne’s set list:
Rains Came/ Why Didn’t You Call Me/ Like a Fool/ Alibi/ Something To Be Said/ Life Is Bad/ 10 Rocks/ Buttons and Beaus/ Loser Dreamer/ Where I’m From/ Black Light Blue/ ???/ Where Am I Now/ Old # 7 ENCORE Leavin’/ You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me/ Iced Tea
P.S. Loved her guitar strap, which in sparkly script says “Shelvis.”

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