Fully Repaired

A whole new Colvin

What a difference five years makes. Shawn Colvin's 1996 CD, A Few Small Repairs, while cloaked in radio-friendly production, was lyrically full of spit and vitriol, a searing portrait of alienation and divorce that you happened to be able to sing along with. Remember the Grammy-winning "Sunny Came Home" and the venomous "Get Out of This House"? Since then the Austin singer has remarried and become a mother, and happiness and contentment fill her new songs. Take the effusive title track and first single, in which she sings "Shake your head and wonder when it's all too good to be true." Hand in hand with that sans souci comes a mannered and mature batch of songs. Recorded in Austin and New York with writing partner-producer John Leventhal, Whole New You is lovingly and meticulously rendered. There's little trace of the former folkie who sang backup on Suzanne Vega's "Luka"; this is Joni Mitchell-ish material embellished with strings and horns, banjo and clarinet. Colvin plays little guitar, but her voice—a gorgeous soprano, warm, supple, and ethereal—has gotten even better. She and Leventhal craft nugget after nugget, notably the winning melodies of "Anywhere You Go" and "Nothing Like You." The musicians are top-notch, and along for the ride are James Taylor, who sings harmony on the enigmatic "Bonefields," and Charlie Sexton, who does the same on "Roger Wilco," a spartan number co-written with Edie Brickell. Colvin's lyrics scrutinize human relationships with an unflinching eye, veering from the literal ("Bound to You") to the dreamlike ("Another Plane Went Down") to the ambiguous ("Mr. Levon") without missing a beat. Like her heroes Mitchell and painter Julie Speed, she's blessed with a talent that appeals to many but is charged with a spark that tugs her just left of center.

More Texas Monthly

Loading, please wait...

Most Read

  • Viewed
  • Past:
  • 1 week