Coming of age during the ’90s may not have as much significance as being a flower child in the ’60s, but the final decade of the 2oth century had its own perks: a musical melting pot of feminism, characterized by a bevy of women strummin’ and singin’ their way out from under the male-dominated grunge scene.
Sarah McLachlan may have emerged as the queen of this movement, but for a short time, Shawn Colvin was a serious contender for the throne.
“Sunny Came Home,” a bright and catchy empowerment anthem that belied its story about murder and revenge, was the breakthrough hit off Colvin’s fourth record, A Few Small Repairs. Its ubiquity made Colvin seem like an overnight success, even though she’d already won a Contemporary Folk Grammy for her very first album, Steady On, in 1991. “Sunny Came Home” would win her two more Grammys in 1998, for both Record and Song of the Year, and earn her a place on the Lilith Fair circuit, cementing Colvin as one of the signature voices for a generation of young music fans looking for female role models in the business.
Colvin hasn’t let them down. Though none of her subsequent records have matched the popularity of A Few Small Repairs, Colvin has maintained a steady touring schedule to support her critically acclaimed releases.
Her most recent album, Live, was recorded over three nights at Yoshi’s, a famed jazz club in San Francisco. The album keeps with what Colvin’s best known for — pop-folk stories spun in a clear, strong voice. The collection is a compelling argument for seeing Colvin live; experiencing her assured delivery and wry wit firsthand is a welcome reminder of just how long she’s been developing her craft.
There’s newfound depth in the most familiar songs, like fan favorites “Fill Me Up” and “Sunny.” Welcomed throwbacks still tug at the heartstrings, like the wistful-sounding “Shotgun Down the Avalanche” and the achingly lovely “Polaroid.” But it’s actually Colvin’s sparkling covers, including “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley, that truly prove her firm grip on star quality, even if she’s not in the spotlight directly anymore.
Stay cool. Support City Paper.
City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.