LABEL…Concord Music Group, Inc. / Deluxe Edition
YEAR…10 June, 2016
Even Steve Earle admits that by the time you’re in your fifth decade of writing songs, inspiration can be tough to find.
Then came an invitation by Shawn Colvin, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter. In late 2014 she asked Earle to join her for a week of shows together. Unlike most twin bills where two songwriters swap songs onstage, Colvin and Earle discovered that besides sharing a common folk root in their music, when they sang together it created a perfect blend.
“We sing cross harmony. We don’t rehearse it, we just naturally do it,” Earle says. “That’s what we weren’t prepared for. When you’re an artist our age” — he is 61, Colvin 60 — “you’re looking for surprises and they are harder and harder to come by.”
A few days later he proposed making a record. “I was like, ‘Oh sure’,” Colvin says. “You take that with a grain of salt because everybody’s busy. But if you know Steve Earle, he multitasks like crazy.”
Three songwriting sessions later and we have Colvin & Earle, a new album, just released, that both songwriters say represents not just a mutual collaboration but also a standalone musical project they hope will continue onward alongside their respective careers. A tour, featuring just the two of them, started this week in London and continues through late September throughout the US.
With distinguished careers of their own making, Colvin and Earle don’t necessarily need to share the bill with anyone. Earle is a troubadour in the mold of his early hero Townes Van Zandt; over the years, whether his music has veered from country to rock to bluegrass to folk, he has consistently written peerless melodies in songs that have spanned agitprop in the George W Bush years to literary-minded folk-rock. After a series of well-received folk-pop albums, Colvin won Grammys for both song and record of the year in 1997 for Sunny Came Home, and since then she has released music that evokes a blend of Joni Mitchell, her hero, and the Beatles.
1. Come What May (3:12)
2. Tell Moses (3:41)
3. Tobacco Road (2:50)
4. Ruby Tuesday (3:35)
5. The Way That We Do (4:21)
6. Happy and Free (2:17)
7. You Were on My Mind (2:57)
8. You’re Right (I’m Wrong) (4:14)
9. Raise the Dead (2:51)
10. You’re Still Gone (3:39)
11. Someday (3:52)
12. That Don’t Worry Me Now (3:16)
13. Baby’s in Black (2:21)