Album Reviews

Shawn Colvin

A Few Small Repairs

Artist:     Shawn Colvin

Album:     A Few Small Repairs

Label:     Columbia/Legacy

Release Date:     9.15.17


Nobody walks away completely unscathed from the emotional wreckage of a failed marriage. The wounds from her divorce were still fresh when Shawn Colvin made A Few Small Repairs, the singer/songwriter’s beautifully crafted 1997 hit “break-up” album. Poring over the damage, Colvin found plenty of source material for a remarkably poignant and insightful deep dive into the murky waters of human relationships – her literate, evocative storytelling swimming in lithe, shapely melodies and lush, folk-pop warmth.

A marriage of another sort helped conceive the masterful record – freshly reissued for its 20th anniversary, with a handful of lovingly rendered, intimate rare live tracks and even more audio and visual extras for additional PledgeMusic releases. Colvin and producer/co-writer John Leventhal reunited back then to create what remains a richly immersive listen. Rather than becoming unmoored by whatever heartbreak and pain she was experiencing at the time, Colvin’s artistry seemed more assured and focused than ever on A Few Small Repairs. She and Leventhal talk of how effortless the creative process was in engaging, informative liner notes packaged with the original LP, and it resulted in the most captivating work of Colvin’s career.

Sink deeply into the liquid eddies of “The Facts About Jimmy” or become ensconced in the luxurious darkness of “Trouble” and “I Want It Back” and it’s easy to lose all track of time. Commiserate with the nostalgic resignation of “If I Were Brave,” with its melancholy strings and stark piano, and the sadness is overwhelming. Dance to the light incandescence and amiable shuffle of “You and The Mona Lisa” and the playful buoyancy of “Nothin’ On Me” and it seems as if everything is right with the world, although the rumbling defiance of “Get Out of This House” growls that it’s not.

And then, of course, there’s Colvin’s enduring, Grammy-winning hit “Sunny Came Home,” a classic tale of revenge, female empowerment and domestic unease set against a sweeping backdrop of wistful Americana. There’s a reason it still receives strong radio play. Compare A Few Small Repairs to Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks or Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love, and it’s hard to argue that it’s not in the same league.

—Peter Lindblad

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