Published Sep 25, 2015You probably hear Shawn Colvin and think of her beautiful '90s hit "Sunny Came Home," but ask anyone in the folk scene — those who followed her beyond Top 40 fame — and you'll know she's much more than that one song. (In fact, she even had a Grammy under her belt nearly a decade before "Sunny" took to the charts.)
For her latest release, Uncovered, Colvin put songwriting on the back burner and decided to cover some of the American (and Canadian) greats. It's not her first foray into covers; 1994's Cover Girl also included a track by Tom Waits and was similarly produced by Steuart Smith. Now, 21 years after its release, Colvin says she never tires of learning covers and had a few more in the hopper.
Uncovered kicks off with a stripped-down version (if it could get anymore stripped down) of Bruce Springsteen's "Tougher than the Rest," fully folkified with fingerpicking acoustic and some pedal steel. The sparse instrumentation continues throughout as Colvin navigates through Paul Simon ("American Tune"), the Band ("Acadian Driftwood"), Creedence Clearwater Revival ("Lodi") and Graham Nash ("I Used to Be a King"). This plainness works for Colvin's interpretations, and at some points, particularly on the Kathleen Brenan-Tom Waits co-write "Hold On," she channels an early Joni Mitchell with alternate tunings and rhythmic guitar strums.
Though the album is a nice little slice of Americana, folked-up to the extreme, two things might have made the album stronger: a dose of estrogen (Colvin only covers one female artist — Tammy Wynette's "''Til I Get it Right") and a rock number, something that could string together the slow jams beyond a rainy day listening record. But overall, Uncovered stands up as much as you could want a cover album to; Colvin puts her own folk spin on things and keeps that sound strong throughout. (Fantasy Records)