I'm one of the many who discovered Shelby Lynne only after hearing her for the very first time with the release of her sixth CD, I Am Shelby Lynne, in 2000. Even though it was eleven years after her debut this album was the reason she won the "Best New Artist" Grammy in 2001. While winning that particular award is hard to explain every CD this non-traditional country singer has released from that point forward has been uniformly excellent. She may arguably be my all-time favorite female artist.
It says on the cover of Lynne's latest release, Just A Little Lovin' that it was inspired by the late, great, Dusty Springfield. I was surprised that the idea for this album was suggested to Lynne by her friend, Barry Manilow, after the two were discussing Springfield's music. Taking Manilow up on his idea turned out to be a brilliant move. She offers up nine Springfield songs, adds one of her own, and turns in a perfect performance on every single one.
What makes this CD different from most tribute albums is that Lynne just doesn't mimic her idol's greatest hits or try to recreate the sound of the original recordings. She simply sings the Springfield songs she could do the most justice to in her own style. For instance, because Lynne believes that "Son Of A Preacher Man" from Springfield's most famous album, Dusty In Memphis, was performed perfectly in it's original version she deliberately avoids it on Just A Little Lovin'. Yet Lynne culls four songs from Dusty In Memphis for inclusion here. Despite the absence of "Preacher Man" many of Springfield's biggest American hits are represented including, "I Only Want To Be With You, "The Look Of Love," and "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me."
All ten low key tracks were recorded using sparsely written arrangements at sessions helmed by legendary producer Phil Ramone. The band's goal was to support Lynne and not get in the way of her vocals. They succeeded mightily. A prime example, and one of the most interesting tracks, is the inclusion of "How Can I Be Sure," originally a big hit for The Rascals. American audiences are largely unfamiliar with Springfield's version because it was only released in the United Kingdom. Lynne covers it here with a only a solo acoustic guitar as accompaniment.
Springfield was one of the few female imports of the British Invasion and was a rare vocal talent in a decade known for its rock 'n roll. Lynne is exceptional in her own right. Her earthy, R & B tinged country voice is the perfect vehicle to showcase the songs on Just A Little Lovin'.