Monday, June 29, 2009

First Listen: Shawn Colvin, Live

I really like Shawn Colvin. Sometimes, though, I need to be reminded that I really like Shawn Colvin.

This solo acoustic live album fits the bill well. In fact, there's more of what I like about Colvin on this album than I found on her last two studio releases, which were staid and over-produced affairs. The focus here is on her voice and her nuanced songwriting, where it should be, and what emerges is a set of clear-eyed and memorable tunes.

Highlights include the mesmerizing "Shotgun Down the Avalanche" and the great "Sunny Came Home." In fact, "Sunny" provides one of my favorite moments, as some segments of the audience recognize it from its opening chords, and some only catch on with the first verse. But the thing that makes Live a must-hear is the respectful and soulful cover of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," which she released as a single two years ago. She performs it like an old standard, and it slides into the set list nicely.

Colvin doesn't make records very often, and Live might seem like a slight release, especially since it comes three years after her last album. But it's a delight from start to finish, a gentle reminder of Colvin's oft-forgotten talent.

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