When I Am Shelby Lynne appeared on the Mercury label in 2000, its eponymous singer finally hit on an approach that synthesized her varied influences (country, soul, R&B, rock-and-roll) into a relevant and contemporary whole. Lynne picked up the Best New Artist Grammy, despite having released her first album in 1989, and the album’s title indicated that, finally, the artist knew who she was, and was ready to share her music with the world. Fast-forward eight years, and a number of albums later, and many were surprised to find Lynne releasing Just a Little Lovin’, a countrified tribute to the British chanteuse Dusty Springfield. Journalists and fans alike frequently have invoked the late, great soul goddess when assessing the work of singers like Duffy, Amy Winehouse and even Adele, but the influence of Springfield wasn’t readily apparent in Lynne’s body of work. Yet she transformed what could have been a hackneyed homage into a deeply felt tribute both to Springfield’s indomitable spirit and the timeless songs that figure in her legacy, written by names like Randy Newman, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Upon the album’s release, audiophile guide The Absolute Sound ranked the original CD as one of the best-sounding, while Stereophile ranked it the magazine’s Recording of the Month. Now, Just a Little Lovin’ is reappearing on Hybrid Stereo SACD (playable on all CD players) and 200-gram vinyl LP from Analogue Productions, improving what was already a pristine quality recording.
To craft the album, Lynne teamed with producer Phil Ramone. In his days running New York’s A&R Studios, Ramone became a close ally of Bacharach, and actually engineered the session that yielded Springfield’s “The Look of Love” for the film Casino Royale. Lynne had considered tackling the Springfield songbook for a number of years, and credited her friend Barry Manilow with providing the initial encouragement. Lynne and Ramone reinvented the songs, eschewing the elaborate orchestrations of the original recordings in favor of spare, stripped-down arrangements of guitar, keyboard, drum and bass. Ramone recorded Lynne at Capitol Studios with a microphone once used by Frank Sinatra, and though Lynne could be sensual and sultry in Springfield’s mode, the new treatments rendered them wholly unique. Because of this approach, the singer was free to tackle such all-time staples as “The Look of Love,” “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” and “I Only Want to Be with You.”
We’ve got more after the jump, including pre-order links with sound samples!
The beautiful title track and “Breakfast in Bed” are two of the three songs from Springfield’s seminal Dusty in Memphis album, with Randy Newman’s understated and poignant “I Don’t Want to Hear It Anymore” as the third. Of the most indelible tracks from Memphis, Lynne chose not to reinterpret “Son of a Preacher Man.” Lynne even contributed her own song, “Pretend,” which fit comfortably in the intimate, smoky vibe of the entire album. She was rewarded with the highest-charting album of her career (No. 41 on the Billboard 200) and nearly unanimous acclaim.
Analogue Productions’ SACD and audiophile LP both maintain the original 10-track sequence. (An eleventh song, the Bacharach/David “Wishin’ and Hopin’” was added for the U.K. release) A release date of February 28 is anticipated, but pre-order links with sound samples are up now at Elusive Disc; just click below to hear (an approximation of) what all the fuss is about. Just a Little Lovin’, early in the morning, still beats a cup of coffee for starting off the day.
Shelby Lynne, Just a Little Lovin’ (Lost Highway B0009789-02, 2008 – reissued Analogue Productions APSA041/APLP041, 2012)
- Just a Little Lovin’
- Anyone Who Had a Heart
- You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me
- I Only Want to Be with You
- The Look of Love
- Breakfast In Bed
- Willie and Laura Mae Jones
- I Don’t Want to Hear It Anymore
- How Can I Be Sure