In 2008 Shelby Lynne released the CD Just A Little Lovin’, her homage to Dusty Springfield, still one of the best British singers of all time. I saw Shelby Lynne do the songs from the CD at the Austin Music Hall during SXSW in 2008, and it is still one of my favourite albums.
Besides Dionne Warwick, Dusty Springfield has always been the best interpreter of the songs of Burt Bacharach and Hal Davis. She was also responsible for introducing modern soul to the British audience in the 60’s. After 1970 she had a hard time as an artist, not selling much, and generally going out of style. She kept on singing, though, up until the mid 90’s when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which eventually killed her in 1999.
Shelby Lynne released her first CD in 1989, 21 years old. Her upbringing was troublesome, and when she was seventeen, she and her younger sister Allison Moorer witnessed their father murder their mother and then killing himself. Shelby Lynne took care of her sister, while trying to get a career as an artist, and Sunrise from 1989 got her some well deserved attention. (Allison Moorer has later got her own career as a singer, and is married to Americana artist Steve Earle.)
During the 90’s Shelby Lynne released four CDs with varying success. Her breakthrough came in 2000 with her CD I am Shelby Lynne, which won her a Grammy as Best New Artist the year after. 2000 was also the first time I saw Shelby Lynne, at Stubb’s during SXSW in Austin. I remember being impressed by her mix of country and rock, and also by her stylish performance.
The next time I saw Shelby Lynne was in 2008, when she presented Just A Little Lovin’ at SXSW. What I saw was a totally different performance, laid-back, intimate and stylish in a subdued way. She performed with a jazz combo lead by Dean Parks, who also plays on the CD, and played the whole CD from start to finish.
My favourites from Just A Little Lovin’ are first of all the three first songs, the title song by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, then Anyone Who Had A Heart by Bacharach/David and You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me by Simon Napier-Bell. There are more good songs here, in my opinion all the songs are worth listening to.
What makes Just A Little Lovin’ special, is that Shelby Lynne haven’t tried to imitate Dusty Springfield. She has made her own very personal version of all the songs, mostly taking the tempo down and sometimes giving the songs a whole new meaning. I must admit that after having heard Shelby Lynne’s versions many times during the last 5 years, I like both her and Dusty Springfield’s versions just as much.
You can listen to Just A Little Lovin’ yourself on Spotify or other music services, and be sure to chek out Dusty Springfield, too. Her album Dusty In Memphis from 1969 is considered her very best artistically, and it contains many of the songs on Shelby Lynne’s album.
All pictures are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.