Shelby Lynne The Kessler Theater Friday, January 27
Shelby Lynne does things her way, and that's how it was Friday at The Kessler. She has a voice that rivals anyone in terms of control, clarity and power, with a honeyed Southern twang used to good effect. She applies that amazing instrument to her songs and makes them feel like intimate revelations.
Showing up only15 minutes before show time, Lynne wasted no time getting down to the task at hand. Accompanied by a guitar, she delivered her songs and, often, the stories behind them. The standing room audience hung on every word.
As might be expected, the 90-minute set drew heavily from her newest release, Revelation Road. But her whole catalog was well represented. Introducing "Toss It All Aside" off the new release, she explained how she had seen a desperate man, and hadn't realized the song was about her daddy until last year. Tissues, please.
Another highlight was her relating how she tried to make a married life in Nashville before moving to Southern California with $14 in her pocket, singing an emotional "Leavin'" from breakthrough I Am Shelby Lynne. And while the original version is a nod to Memphis soul with Hammond organ and wah-wah, her unaccompanied performance was a very personal delivery of the "gotta move on" message. The "Johnny Met June" intro included a nice nod to Etta James.
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As the set closed, Lynne was washed in the warmth of an very appreciative crowd before launching into an a cappella version of Dusty Springfield's "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" that was crystalline.
There was a meet and greet in the lobby afterward. Lynne patiently signed and posed with at least half of the audience, topping off an intimate night of music with a woman who seems comfortable going it alone.
Personal bias: Really nothing better than a pure voice, and Lynne has one. The intimate setting of the Kessler showcased it beautifully.
Random note: This was a very diverse crowd, many of whom may have never found their way to Oak Cliff before. I didn't sense anyone felt short changed for their effort.