Back in the mid-1980s, contemporary folk hero Shawn Colvin and multi-instrumentalist/producer John Leventhal co-wrote what Colvin called "Steely Dan horn-rimmed pop songs." That combination — Colvin's poetic, confessional lyrics and percussive guitar ladled into Leventhal's rich stream of melodic music — created her landmark debut album, Steady On, which won the 1990 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album.
Touring in support of Steady On (30th Anniversary Acoustic Edition), Colvin came back to Mountain Stage (where she first appeared in August 1988) to celebrate her milestone debut album. Also on the bill was a long-time friend and collaborator, Lucy Kaplansky, who joins Colvin on stage in this set.
Guest host Kathy Mattea praises Colvin's body of work, which includes 12 albums, three Grammy awards and a book, noting that "Sunny Came Home," her game-changing smash, "knocked a generation off their feet, including me and all my friends."
Colvin plows straight ahead into two of her masterful love-gone-wrong songs, "Steady On" and "Shotgun Down the Avalanche." She tells the audience that the latter song was inspired by overhearing a girl on the street tell her mother, "Oh, mom, don't have an avalanche." Colvin said she loved the word and recognized the real feel of natural disasters as a metaphor for relationships.
"Cry Like An Angel," another Leventhal co-write and a nod to the complications of navigating home, follows. Colvin's voice, which Mattea describes as "a juxtaposition of sensitively and toughness," is on full display vocally, lyrically and in her expressive guitar playing on "Ricochet in Time." She began writing the song in San Francisco while still working in a stained glass store and finished it in New York City, the place where she started her musical career in the 1980s.
"Ricochet in time to the music / You just pick a day and I'm in / A new destination / I crawled up from the sewer / For something that was truer / Than I intended / I ended up on my knees / In this big city I was befriended / I transcended," she sings in the song.
One of several talented guests on Colvin's first album, Lucy Kaplansky, an acclaimed singer-songwriter in her own right, joins Colvin for a spirited version of "Diamond In The Rough," a song they sang together 30 years ago. Colvin, who has recorded 14 albums, throws a cool classic country curveball to close things out, singing "Til I Get It Right," a song popularized by Tammy Wynette and that Colvin included on her 2015 album, Uncovered.
Colvin will round out 2019 on a co-headlining tour with Mary Chapin Carpenter, followed by an extensive tour of Steady On (30th Anniversary) in the spring of 2020.