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Shelby Lynne 

Suit Yourself (Capitol)

Just like its title, Shelby Lynne's fourth album in five years is casual and inviting. It's also her most assured disc, mainly because she no longer sounds as if she has anything to prove. And even though its music is the most easygoing of any of her recent albums, Lynne's lyrics are tough-minded, giving the subtly textured and adult Suit Yourself unusual tension.

Based on demos laid down in Lynne's California home, Suit Yourself covers pop, blues, and country -- all genres in which Lynne is comfortable. Oh yes, there's soul too. The Alabama native evokes a bayou Aretha on the stunning "I Cry Everyday"; cuts like a razor on the provocative, metaphor-rich "You're the Man"; and puts nouveau-blues chanteuse Norah Jones in her place on "Sleep."

The music is rich (count on that, when Benmont Tench contributes keyboards), the ambiance, organic. The topics here include love ("Iced Tea"), disdain ("You Don't Have a Heart"), pride (the pretty pop of "I Won't Be Alone"), and sensuality. Tony Joe White even contributes his swamp-fox baritone to a few tunes. One of the strongest is "Track 12," a long, jamming version of White's "Rainy Night in Georgia," an old hit for Brook Benton. You don't want it to end. You could say the same for this CD. Lynne has never sounded more confident or sultry.

More by Carlo Wolff

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