Reviewed by Abby Johnston, Fri., June 29, 2012
Shawn ColvinAll Fall Down (Nonesuch)
After three Grammys, seven albums, and a spoof on The Simpsons, Shawn Colvin's earned her keep as a singer-songwriter. The Austinite's laid down her last 22 years in folk-pop confessionals – and most recently in new memoir Diamond in the Rough – but her eighth studio LP, All Fall Down, is an aural and lyrical departure. Recorded at the home of producer Buddy Miller, Colvin shies away from her high-range crooning, instead settling into a deep, rich alto with an added country twang. More than musical switch-ups, Colvin has also tapped into a darker lyrical base in her six-year recording hiatus. The opening title track forecasts the rest of the album, as she digs into taxing city life and the unjust hand of fate. Her sparse cover of "American Jerusalem" is a twanged ode to U.S. commercial conquests mirrored by her own dark, apocalyptic "Fall of Rome." "Up on That Hill" closes the album as Colvin reduces the human experience to blind selfishness with help from Emmylou Harris. It's a far cry from the fighting optimism of "Sunny Came Home" but Shawn Colvin still writes with fearless honesty and genuine insight.