Shawn Colvin – All Fall Down (2012)

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Singer/songwriter Shawn Colvin’s eighth studio album is a deeply personal, deeply sustaining experience. All Fall Down was produced by her long-time pal Buddy Miller and features the input of such luminaries as Alison Krauss, Jakob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Bill Frisell, and Mary Chapin Carpenter.

The album was released June 5, the same day as her Diamonds in the Rough memoir. In putting her life out there to such a reflective expanse, Colvin solidifies herself as a critical artist on the landscape of American music.
Recorded at Miller’s home studio, All Fall Down is described by Colvin as “an album about loss but also about redemption and resolution.”

Opening with the dynamic, catchy title track, the record digs both heels in with Colvin’s primer: “Here I come, cuz I don’t know better.” She talks of fairness and about still maybe-kinda-sorta believing in love, asking why the “best of ‘em wind up sweepin’ dirt off the street” while the “worst of ‘em end up right back up on their feet.”

“American Jerusalem” is a stunningly poignant piece of folk magic. It features Harris on harmony and includes the guitars of Frisell and Miller to match Colvin’s own underrated presence on the instrument.

Frisell lends his services most notably with the extraordinary “Anne of the Thousand Days,” playing guitar and aiding Colvin in writing. Her frankness is overwhelming and the song’s melodic sweep is chill-inducing. Frisell’s guitar punches holes in the night sky and Colvin lets us in, all the way in, to the core of her heartache. Lines like “And I’m sorry I broke into your email” are delivered with such truth that it’s hard to stand the fallout.

Moments like “Anne of the Thousand Days” confirm what Shawn Colvin means on the larger musical landscape. This All Fall Down of hers is a record of matchless magnificence and honesty, whether it shines with pieces of twangy country music (“Knowing What I Know Now”) or the Treme-featured “The Neon Light of the Saints.”

Colvin effortlessly captures the business of life, from its rough smokescreens to its blue, far-reaching blunders, with her spellbinding guitar and her uncomplicated vocals. With All Fall Down, hers are the stories worth listening to and committing to. As she sings in “Fall of Rome,” it’s probably true that “in anyone’s heartache and in anyone’s blues is a beautiful feeling of nothing to lose…”

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Jordan Richardson

Jordan Richardson is a Canadian freelance writer and ne'er-do-well. He also contributes to his own Canadian Cinephile and Canadian Audiophile websites. Contact Something Else! Reviews at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
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