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Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008

Shelby Lynne w/ David McMillin @ Turner Hall Ballroom

Nov. 28, 2008

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Shelby Lynne has always done music-and pretty much everything else-her own way, but she knows how to make it pay off, especially when performing live. For the 300-plus fans who turned out Friday at Turner Hall Ballroom, Lynne and her three-piece band proved that determination (with a little stubbornness thrown in) makes for some great music and an even better time.

At 40, Lynne sings with a voice that's seen and experienced it all. Her 90-minute set covered a range of her work and styles, including rock, blues, country, ballads and covers from her recent release, Just a Little Lovin', a tribute to '60s icon Dusty Springfield.

When she sang "Leavin'," it resounded with an emotive mix of sadness and resignation, but also with the resolve to move on. And her nod to another '60s icon, Patsy Cline, was spot on. "If I pitched Patsy Cline a song, this is what it would sound like," Lynne said before breaking into her original song, "Lonesome," her husky vocals as rich and deep with emotion as the late, great country singer. The up-tempo arrangement was every bit reminiscent of Cline's seamless mix of country and pop.

Lynne owes much of her diverse range of sounds to her excellent backing trio: Rick Reed on drums, Brian Harrison on bass, and John Jackson, who's played with Bob Dylan and Lucinda Williams, on guitar and harmonica. Jackson's incredible work on slide guitar fleshed out Lynne's hybrid of music genres, while Harrison and Reed filled in the nooks and crannies that give Lynne a sound all her own.

Acoustic guitarist David McMillin opened with a 30-minute set that combined storytelling from his native Indiana ("Factory Town Lullabies") with a timeless topic for folk singers: love and leaving ("Go Easy"). His easygoing manner and gravel-road vocals quickly commanded the attention of the audience-and deservedly so.