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Shawn Colvin | Whole New You (Columbia)
There has been a deal of criticism from some quarters about how this disc is dominated by John Leventhal - who produces, plays, and co-wrote the songs - and how smooth he makes matters. Well, what a bunch of carping ingrates - he's made most of her albums things of beauty, and I'm prepared to congratulate him on another job well done. It's smooth, but it's quirky, with some nice bits of business to excite the aural receptors and, with some subtle Beatle and Beach Boy production touches, it all starts to really get under your skin after the third listen. Collaboration obviously suits our Shawn. This is, after all, only her fourth album of her own material ?? it's five years since A Few Small Repairs, which came out four years after Fat city, which came three years after her debut (A rather good live album, a patchy covers album and a lovely Christmas covers disc padded out the gaps somewhat). So she's hardly the most prolific artist around, even with help. And what's the alternative? More covers albums like the dreary make-weight stuff that Rickie Lee Jones, Jane Siberry and Joni Mitchell have recently resorted to? And collaborators aren't always this sympathetic ?? remember how hubby Larry Klein basically finished off Joni Mitchell as a creative force, before going on, coincidentally, to help Leventhal produce Shawn's fine first LP. If you're a fan ?? of Shawn, or of witty and gorgeous records - you can confidently invest here.

Jeff Cotton
CWAS #8 - Summer 2001