Shawn Colvin


Shawn Colvin

Shawn Colvin

Telluride regular, contemporary folk artist, singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin is back to town to perform her annual Christmas show at the historic Sheridan Opera House. Her two concerts take place Saturday, December 28, 6:30 p.m.and 8:30 p.m., and are part of the Sheridan Arts Foundation’s Holiday Concert Series, with upcoming shows featuring Marc Broussard, (12/29, 8 p.m.) the (New Year’s Eve, 9 p.m.) and an evening of vaudeville (12/30).

Expect the usual wonderful from Shawn: a signature blend of frankness (mostly about her own triumphs and tragedies) tempered by humor and sensuality and delivered against a backdrop of strong, simple melodies.

Way back when, Shawn Colvin was one of the emergent artists from the Austin, Texas music scene of the late 1980s. She has released a number of albums since 1989 debut Steady On, which won Best Contemporary Folk Album Grammy, but it was her 1996 release of A Few Small Repairs that proved to be her biggest seller to date. The recording produced her highest charting single “Sunny Came Home” and won Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Record of the Year.

Shawn’s latest (third) Nonesuch disc, All Fall Down, was produced in collaboration with longtime friend and occasional band-mate, guitarist Buddy Miller. The sessions, at Buddy’s home studio in Nashville, Tennessee, were distinguished, as Shawn describes them, by a kind of “back-porch bonhomie.”

The easygoing atmosphere, however, did not prevent the incisive Shawn, on the 11 new tracks, from examining a few hard cold truths. Artfully pared-down arrangements mirror the compelling emotional directness of the songs, in which the songwriter addresses the dissolution of a relationship with the sort of dry-eyed candor that has long been a hallmark of her work.

“I didn’t have a specific theme in mind when I started writing,” Colvin admits, “but I think the album is imbued with a sense of loss. I had gone through a relationship that didn’t work out. I’m getting older and so are my parents. So it’s a kind of breakup album, if you will. Not quite about reflection as much as it is about working through something painful. It portrays a sense of loss and redemption and -” she hastens to add—“resolution.”

Collaborating with Buddy Miller on All Fall Down is altogether fitting in light of the tale Shawn recounts in her “Diamond in the Rough” (William Morrow/Harper Collins), an account of her life and work to date.

More than 30 years ago, it was Buddy who encouraged a young Shawn to come to New York City and sing in his band.
Shawn was more of a country-rock singer when Buddy first heard her perform in Austin, doing other artists’ material, with no repertoire of her own. By the time Buddy got back in touch, the restless Shawn had already decamped for San Francisco, but eventually and wisely heeded Buddy’s call to head East.

After a fair amount of gigging around with Buddy and his cohorts and providing back-up for performers like the already up-and-coming Suzanne Vega, Shawn discovered her own voice as a songwriter.

And never had to look back.

To learn more from Shawn, click the “play” button and listen to our chat.

(And please note: In the podcast, I may have put out incorrect information. Shawn’s concerts both take place Friday, December 28, as stated above.)

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