With her wistfully romantic Country/Soul voice, by turns quietly dreamy and confidently sensuous, Shelby Lynne made her breakthrough with 2000's I Am Shelby Lynne, which contained fine songs she co-wrote. Now she has chosen to record Just a Little Lovin', a tribute album to another female singer whose voice can be described as "wistfully romantic, soulful, dreamy and sensuous" — the late British Pop icon Dusty Springfield.
Since Springfield was not primarily a writer, Lynne must evoke essence, her musical spirit, without just imitating her voice or arrangements. Aided by the restrained clarity of Phil Ramone's production and an intimately jazzy small combo, Lynne finds new life, tenderness and breathing room in these songs. Yet she also conjures Springfield, even on selections ("Anyone Who Had a Heart," "How Can I Be Sure?") not primarily known for Springfield's versions.
Lynne brings a hushed sensitivity to two of Springfield's brassier 1960s hits, "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" and "I Only Want to Be With You." Because Lynne is a Southerner, one might expect her to tackle Springfield's Southern Soul masterpiece "Son of a Preacher Man." But she eschews that for lesser-known selections from the milestone 1969 Dusty in Memphis album: Randy Newman's dramatically understated ballad "I Don't Want to Hear It Anymore," Mann & Weil's commandingly introspective title composition and two numbers with simmering funkiness, Donnie Fritts' and Eddie Hinton's "Breakfast in Bed" and Tony Joe White's "Willie and Laura Mae Jones."
Shelby Lynne has done very well by Springfield and herself. Grade: A-