Better Than the Rest
Shawn Colvin with Emmylou Harris and Buddy Miller
There are some artists who should lean their catalog toward cover songs rather than original compositions. Shawn Colvin is not, however, one of them. As wonderful as she is as an interpreter of others’ works, she’s even better as a writer of her own. But, having recently recorded a second installment in her Cover Girl series, Colvin weighted her recent City Winery Nashville set with songs that were not her own, though she did sprinkle a handful of those in, too.
After starting off with Paul Simon’s “American Tune,” she did a trilogy of originals — “Trouble,” “Polaroids,” and “These Four Walls.” She joked after the always exquisite “Trouble” that she only writes break-up songs, explaining that, even though that one was fast, it was in a minor key. Then, introducing the ever-poignant “These Four Walls,” she added, “I lied. This next song isn’t a break-up song, but don’t get excited: It’s about death and regret.”
Before heading into the next section of the set, Buddy Miller wandered out to join her. Colvin explained that the two met way back in 1976 and she even followed him to New York City during the “Great Country Scare of the ’80s” because he needed a chick singer for his new band. They, then, offered up a trilogy that included a couple of his (“That’s the Way Love Goes” and “Chalk”) and the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses.”
Next up: Emmylou Harris, of course. Between bantering and tuning, the three worked through a series of Emmy’s songs — “Raise the Dead,” “Love and Happiness,” and “Red Dirt Girl” — before closing out the trio portion of the show with some too-heavy harmonies on Tom Waits’ “Hold On,” which is set to be on Colvin’s upcoming covers LP.
Back on her own, Colvin tucked two more of her own tunes (“Ricochet in Time” and “Another Round of Blues”) into classics by Bruce Springsteen, the Beatles, and Jimmy Webb.
Shawn Colvin singing Shawn Colvin songs… that’s about as perfect as live music gets. Shawn Colvin singing other people’s songs… well, that’s still pretty great.