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Colvin & Earle
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Steve Earle (vocals, guitar, bouzouki, mandocello, mandolin, strings, harmonica); Shawn Colvin (vocals, guitar, strings); Buddy Miller (guitar, harmonium); Richard Bennett (guitar); Fred Eltringham (drums, percussion).
  • Audio Mixer: Collin Dupuis.
  • Photographer: Alexandra Valenti.
  • Shawn Colvin has landed a few tunes on the pop charts over the course of her career, and Steve Earle was briefly a legitimate country star. But in 2016, as the two team up for their first album as a duo, Colvin & Earle are folkies -- hip folkies, to be sure, but at heart two singer/songwriters on the far side of 50 who like swapping harmonies and strumming their acoustic guitars. Colvin & Earle sound like good friends who enjoy singing together, and this album has a lively and spontaneous atmosphere, especially when the two are singing old covers. For Shawn and Steve's generation, if "Tobacco Road," "Ruby Tuesday," and "You Were on My Mind" don't qualify as folk songs, it's hard to imagine what would, and "Tell Moses" borrows enough from a fistful of old traditional numbers that it feels more like a cover than a Colvin/Earle original, despite the songwriting credits. Colvin's voice, still sweet if seasoned by time, proves to be a fine match for Earle's more rugged instrument, and he shows good instincts as he dodges in and around her lead lines. Buddy Miller produced the Colvin & Earle sessions, and he gives these recordings a sound that's rich but doesn't sound fussed over, especially the deep bass and drums (from Chris Wood and Fred Eltringham) and the layers of guitar provided by Earle, Miller, and Richard Bennett. Colvin & Earle sound great on the covers on this album, and quite good on the originals. This effort seems to be another example of a project where the songwriters were saving their A-list material for their own set, but if "You're Right (I'm Wrong") and "Happy and Free" don't rank with the best songs either Colvin or Earle have written, they're a long, long way from bad. They reflect facets of each tunesmith, and they're not likely to let down fans of either artist. Colvin & Earle plays more like a detour for these two artists rather than the beginning of a long-standing collaboration, but the enthusiasm here is honest and the result is a good week's work that leaves room for a sequel. ~ Mark Deming
Professional Reviews
Uncut (magazine) - "The two voices make for an ideal fit, spinning out harmonies that see Earle's raspy tones rub up against the softer cadence of Colvin's delivery."
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