Shelby Lynne has always had a reputation as one of those "problem" talents. Like Kelly Willis, she's had major-label record deals and, at times, big money behind her. But throughout a career that began with a duet with George Jones 22 years ago, Lynne, who won a Grammy in 2000 for "Best New Artist," has been known for her independence and "my way or the highway" attitude.
Artistically never standing still long enough to be trapped in any of the genre pigeonholes that label marketing departments insist upon, Lynne has bounced around the industry a bit. Her new album Tears, Lies, and Alibis, which raced up the Americana music charts upon its April 20 release, is a soulful, Southern, stripped-down combination of icy-cool pop ditties, smoldering ballads and some of the most emotionally devastating songwriting of Lynne's career.
Chatter: What was the impetus to start your own label for this album?
Shelby Lynne8 p.m. Tuesday, May 18, at Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel, 713-225-5483 or www.warehouselive.com.
Shelby Lynne: When Lost Highway, who released my last record, passed on this one I knew it was time to go out on my own. Best thing I ever did.
C: With your own label, has the time you spend on the business side grown or lessened?
SL: It takes more effort and concentration, but it's worth it. I enjoy the entire involvement.
C: You produced the new album. What was your thought process about doing it yourself versus using a producer?
SL: I was into using a producer, but there was no money. Now that it's finished, I love the outcome.
C: You seem to always get an "album" feel versus a couple of strong singles and some filler.
SL: I always intend on making a whole album. My ultimate artistic goal is to make a record where not one song is skipped through.
C: At what point did you say to yourself, "Tears, Lies, and Alibis is the title"?
SL: One morning it just came to me. I needed a title, started putting words together and these just rolled out of my mouth.
C: Were there songs that didn't make the album?
SL: Yes, I wrote at least 20 songs for the record. I'll use the others at some point in the future, but these ten just felt like cousins and needed to be together to make the right journey this time.
C: Whom do you consider the top female voices today?
SL: I like singers who don't over-sing and can make you believe the song. I like my sister [Allison Moorer].
C: What's the worst thing about touring?
SL: It is just not easy, and you stay tired all of the time. You never catch up.
C: What is your stance on compromising with labels, producers, etc.?
SL: I have never and will never compromise my art for commerce. That's the problem. That's why a lot of music is weak and lame right now.
Trae the Truth took his feud with 97.9 The Box to a whole different level last week, filing suit in Harris County Civil Court against the local hip-hop radio station and its parent company, Maryland-based Radio One. In the suit, Trae claims that besides the alleged ban on his music since he released last fall's mixtape The Incredible Truth, The Box has also suspended or fired more than one employee (including longtime evening DJs the Kracker Nuttz) and will not sell advertising for any events with which the "Swang" rapper is associated. Trae is seeking damages for, among other things, mental suffering and loss of performance revenue. The Box and Radio One have maintained media silence since the story flared up April 23, when former Houston hip-hop promoter Matt Sonzala posted a highly critical open letter to The Box on his Austin Surreal blog shortly after the Kracker Nuttz were let go from the station. "We believe this goes beyond legal bounds," Trae's attorney, Warren Fitzgerald Jr., said at a press conference outside the courthouse May 5.
2110 Portsmouth, 713-526-9272
1. The Happen-Ins, The Happen-Ins
2. Roky Erickson & Okkervil River, True Love Cast Out All Evil
3. Mike Stinson, The Jukebox In Your Heart 4. MGMT, Congratulations5. Gogol Bordello, Trans-Continental Hustle
6. She & Him, Volume Two
7. Various Artists, KTRU Live vol. 2
8. Willie Nelson, Country Music
9. Wild Moccasins, Microscopic Metronomes EP 10. The Apples in Stereo, Travellers in Space and Time
1. Tamala Mann, "Joy of the Lord"
2. Marvin Sapp, "The Best In Me"
3. Vanessa Bell Armstrong, "Good News"
4. Shawn McLemore, "Sunday Morning"
5. Bishop Paul S. Morton, "Be Blessed"
6. Gladys Knight, "Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me"
7. Greg Adams, "Burma Road"
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8. Wayman Tisdale, "Cruisin'"
9. Kathy Taylor & Favor, "Oh How Precious"
10. Roy Ayers, "Searching"
(lists compiled by Chris Gray)