Shelby Lynne

Identity Crisis (Capitol)

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Shelby Lynne is almost as well known for identity crises as for artistry, but there's no crisis here -- just versatility, passion, and power. Largely written and totally produced by the complex Nashville singer-songwriter, Lynne's third LP should reestablish her as one of today's more compelling and penetrating artists.

In 2000, Lynne released I Am Shelby Lynne, a sultry, bluesy masterpiece. In 2001, she stumbled badly with Love, Shelby, a misguided, overproduced pop collection that presented her as a bimbo. Here, she's her own person again. "Telephone," the first single, is a memorable tale of rue. The multi-tracked "Lonesome" sounds as if it might have been recorded under the influence of Lynne discoverer Billy Sherrill, a Nashville producer who wrapped her in sonic gauze. But, suffused with Lynne's high, lonesome sound, it's ravishing rather than repressive.

The album is packed with fine material, including the punkish "Gotta Be Better," the taut rockabilly "I'm Alive," and "One With the Sun," a cosmic statement that affirms how effectively Lynne has traded mawkish for majestic.

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