Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

293

Shawn Colvin: Live

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
In these days of Pro Tools, punch-ins, and quantizing, it's a sad reality that many artists who sound great on record are incapable of pulling off live performances of equal quality; it's now possible to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Then there's singer/songwriter Shawn Colvin. Starting with the breakthrough hit Steady On (Columbia, 1989), her studio albums have all been beautifully crafted, thanks in no small part to the astute choices and sonic layering of longtime producer/multi-instrumentalist John Leventhal. While still lush to the ear, Colvin's first album for Nonesuch—2006's These Four Walls—was something of a return to the more stripped-down approach of her first record.



Still, the rubber really hits the road with Live, recorded over three nights at Yoshi's in Oakland, USA. Pared down to nothing but a voice and an acoustic guitar, it's clear that the same raw materials that encouraged Columbia to give her a contract back in the late-1980s remain intact. Colvin proves herself an engaging performer on this set of 12 originals and three covers, culled from five studio albums released over the past 20 years, connecting with her audience on a number of levels.



Colvin's pure voice and restrained delivery make every song a treat, from the folksy "Shotgun Down the Avalanche" and poignant "Polaroids" to the rhythm-heavy "Tennessee," and Grammy Award-winning "Sunny Came Home"—introduced, after the autobiographical "Nothing Like You," from Whole New You (Columbia, 2001), with, "After all that sensitive stuff, sometimes you've just gotta write a murder ballad." There's no American Idol-style melisma here; instead, a kind of comfortable, nuanced delivery that gets deep into every song. Colvin turns The Talking Heads' "This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)" into a soft ballad, and finds the buried meaning of Gnarls Barkley's neo-soul hit, "Crazy," in an insistently propulsive but ultimately darker take.



Colvin's equally fine skill as an acoustic guitarist—sometimes buried by Leventhal's undeniably fine production—is front and center. A strong, rhythmic player, there's a reason why she seems to prefer performing solo: unencumbered by the constraints of a group and more defined arrangements, she's simply able to exercise greater interpretive latitude.



Telling the audience "I'm going to do one more, but I don't know what to do," the obligatory cry for Leonard Skynyrd's "Free Bird!" comes from the audience. Responding, "Yeah, you had to say it didn't you? Here's the thing: 'Freebird' is really popular, but I was playing in bands at that time, and the truth of the matter is, [Deep Purple's] 'Smoke on the Water' was a much more popular song," Colvin launches into "Diamond in the Rough," a highlight from Steady On. It may not be "Smoke on the Water"—or "Freebird," for that matter—but it's a better choice and, as is the case with all of Live, a song that captures the imagination and the heart with nothing more than one fine voice and one equally fine guitar.


Track Listing: Polaroids; A Matter of Minutes; Shotgun Down the Avalanche; Twilight; Tennessee; Nothing Like You; Sunny Came Home; Fill Me Up; Wichita Skyline; I'm Gone; Ricochet In Time; Diamond in the Rough; Crazy; This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody).

Personnel: Shawn Colvin: guitar, vocal.

Title: Live | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Nonesuch Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Satoko Fujii Solo CD/LP/Track Review Satoko Fujii Solo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 17, 2018
Read when the shade is stretched CD/LP/Track Review when the shade is stretched
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2018
Read The Influencing Machine CD/LP/Track Review The Influencing Machine
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Presence CD/LP/Track Review Presence
by Geannine Reid
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Flaneur CD/LP/Track Review Flaneur
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 16, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 16, 2018
Read "Still Motion" CD/LP/Track Review Still Motion
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 7, 2017
Read "Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman" CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read "Far from Over" CD/LP/Track Review Far from Over
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 8, 2017
Read "Port Bou" CD/LP/Track Review Port Bou
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 15, 2017
Read "The Hidden Notes - Spirit Of Adventure" CD/LP/Track Review The Hidden Notes - Spirit Of Adventure
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Pathways" CD/LP/Track Review Pathways
by Jerome Wilson
Published: May 30, 2017