Colvin culled these 15 live tracks from two decades’ worth of material, including her Nonesuch debut, These Four Walls, and makes it all sound even more deeply insightful and compellingly up to date in these sets from three sold-out nights at Yoshi's San Francisco in July 2008.
“I’ve been doing this a long time,” declared Shawn Colvin upon the release of her 2006 Nonesuch debut, These Four Walls, “and it’s great to feel like I’m doing my best work now.”
This new live solo set reconfirms that feeling. The three-time Grammy Award–winning singer-songwriter combines material from two decades’ worth of recordings and makes it all sound even more deeply insightful and compellingly up to date, recent songs like “Fill Me Up,” the yearning opening track of These Four Walls, and the tougher, bleaker “I’m Gone,” seem as much like old favorites now as “Sunny Came Home,” Colvin’s career-making Top 40 success, and “Shotgun Down the Avalanche,” from her 1989 major-label debut, Steady On. Along with original songs from five studio albums, Colvin performs covers of Robbie Robertson’s “Twilight” and Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” With the latter, she transforms what was a funky, sing-along smash into something dark, brooding and bluesy—and she performs it with utter conviction to a rapt audience. She ends on a sweeter, more hopefully romantic note with a version of Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place,” which she made her own years ago on the 1994 Cover Girl collection.
Colvin culled these 15 tracks from three sold-out nights at the new San Francisco location of famed Oakland jazz club Yoshi’s in July 2008. The simplicity of Colvin’s performance makes for an engrossing, intimate experience. Her deft acoustic-guitar playing is as eloquent in this unadorned setting as her vocals and her lyrics, which are stripped of sentimentality but stocked with hard-earned wisdom. Aside from the occasional “thank you,” Colvin avoids between-songs patter—though she manages a funny, memorable retort to an audience member’s joking request for “Free Bird” at encore time.
Since joining Nonesuch, Colvin has racked up the accolades. Reviewing These Four Walls, the Washington Post said, “The emotions fueling the lyrics are more complex and more mature than anything she’s offered previously. The image of a middle-aged woman laid bare in These Four Walls isn’t one for the industry. It’s one for the ages.”
Produced by Shawn Colvin and John Leventhal
Mixed by Rick Depofi and John Leventhal at New York Noise, NYC
Live recording by Eric Moffat, Obie O’Brien, and Keith Yansurak at Yoshi’s, San Francisco
Songs written by Shawn Colvin (1, 11, 12); Shawn Colvin & John Leventhal (2, 3, 6-10, 13); Shawn Colvin, John Leventhal, Tom Littlefield (5); Jaime Robbie Robertson (4); Brian Joseph Burton, Thomas Decarlo Callaway, Gian Piero Reverbi, Gianfranco Reverberi (14); David Byrne, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison (15)
Photography by Rodney Bursiel
Design by Jeri Heiden for SMOG, Los Angeles
Shawn Colvin, guitar, vocals