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Straight Shooter Shelby Lynne Has No Need for 'Tears, Lies or Alibis': Inteview

Straight Shooter Shelby Lynne Has No Need for  'Tears, Lies or Alibis': Inteview

Shelby Lynne has been around the block. The singer-songwriter won a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1999 for the I Am Shelby Lynne, even though she'd been in the business a decade. And come April 20, the Alabama gal who now lives in the California desert will release the 11th album in her 20-year career, Tears, Lies, And Alibis, with an acoustic tour to follow. The straight-shooter takes time out to talk music, lesbians and why after two decades in the business she's done with major record labels.

Shelby Lynne has been around the block. The singer-songwriter won a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1999 for the I Am Shelby Lynne, even though she'd been in the business a decade. And come April 20, the Alabama gal who now lives in the California desert will release the 11th album in her 20-year career, Tears, Lies, And Alibis, with an acoustic tour to follow.

With lyrics like confessions and music ranging from honky-tonk ("Old #7") to bluesy ("Old Dog") and pop ("Why Didn't You Call Me"), this sparse, unguarded collection was produced by Lynne, who, with the help of a village of musicians, evokes a live-in-the-studio vintage vibe.

Lynne's upcoming tour, which takes her across the country from California and back again, kicks off April 22 with an intimate show at The Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood.

The straight-shooter takes time out to talk music, lesbians and why after two decades in the business she's done with major record labels.

SheWired: I heard "Loser Dreamer" is one of your favorite tracks off the album, is there a story behind the song?

Shelby Lynne: "Loser dreamer" is about pretty much everybody I know. It came from my best friend Brian, who engineered the record, and he was talking about a breakup a few years ago with a girl. He was saying, 'She just never could understand why I couldn't change, and she just called me a loser dreamer.' That kind of kicked off my writing again when I started working on the record because I was in a little slump for a while.

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Really, why the slump?

The last record I did was a cover record of Dusty Springfield songs. Singing someone else's songs, I got lazy (laughs), then tours come along and you get busy. It definitely helps if you're opening up your mind and heart to create things ... that was the song that got me jumpstarted again.

You wrote all the songs on "Tears, Lies, And Alibis" and you also produced the album, tell me about that.

I produced two or three other albums, so this is another one. I don't consider myself a producer - there are real record producers for a reason - but somehow it just felt right to keep it simple and not try to pretend that I'm a record producer, just make a nice soundin' good feelin' record.

You also started your own label, Everso Records.

Yes, I'm very proud of that.

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What made you want to make that move?

I'm done with the majors - it's not working for me anymore. I'm just going to do my own thing and keep it in house. I'm just kind of over it: I'm over the cooperate "too many hands in the pie," not enough people giving a damn about the project, having to go through them to do anything. I'm done; I like having my own thing.... I made the decisions I wanted to make (on the album), and that's the beauty of not having a record label. I didn't have to answer to anyone, and I plan to keep it that way.

You've been in the business for two decades, how have you seen the music industry change, especially for women?

I don't think it's changed. I think it's the same; I can't see that it's changed at all. I'm 20 years older than I was; I'm still a woman, just an older woman. The music business is just like any other business - it's a man's world and that's the bottom line... I've survived because I don't put up with any shit. I do the records I want to do, and I don't do what I don't want to do. And that's the bottom line: Stay strong and do what you want and keep it consistently what people want to hear and, hell, I don't see any reason why I can't do this until the day I die.

Why is reaching out to your lesbian fans important?

Well, I like reaching out to all my fans, lesbians or not, that's all fine with me. I don't give a damn who you sleep with. I just want you to like the music and come to the shows, and we'll all be friends.

You do have quite a lesbian following.

Good!

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Does that surprise you at all?

No it doesn't. I like everybody and, come on let's face it, we have to understand it's the music that brings us together, gay fans or old fans. That's what's so funny: A lot of my fans are in their eighties. I get the Walker crowd and I get the gays - it's just a trip. The only thing in the world that brings people together is music.

You're a music lover, what are some of your favorite records at the moment?

Oh let me see, there are a lot of good records out. I got some old reggae the other day; Charlotte Gainsbourg, her records pretty good. Massive Attack's really good... Shoot, there's all kinds of things. I love that Lady Gaga record for sure!

Those aren't the artists I was expecting.

Yeah, that's what everybody says. I don't listen to modern country music - I don't really know anything about it. It's something that's not really that country to me. I like the old stuff, Hank Williams ... I like the traditional stuff.

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Jamie Wetherbe