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Shawn Colvin: A Few Small Repairs: 20th Anniversary Edition album review

The classic album celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Shawn Colvin
Credit: Alexandra Valenti

Shawn Colvin - A Few Small Repairs

Credit: Sony Music

Singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin released her debut album Steady On in 1989. Following that release, which won her a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album, Colvin worked hard to build a loyal following and she began to see the results when her third album Cover Girl gave her the best chart placing of her career to date. In 1996 Colvin release A Few Small Repairs, an album that went on to be a huge smash for her selling over 1 million copies in the US.

The album spawned the hit Sunny Came Home, which became a number one single and has become Colvin’s signature song. Despite being originally released in 1996, it was until 1997 that A Few Small Repairs really started to take off and Sony Music has decided, in collaboration with Colvin, to release a 20th Anniversary Edition of the album this year. The new edition features the original track listing along with 7 live tracks taken from the same era.

A Few Small Repairs is one of those unique albums that as close to flawless as you can get. Colvin rode the wave of female singer-songwriters that dominated radio and the charts in the late 90s, and she’s often not really given the credit she deserves for helping pave the way for other women. The album opens with Sunny Came Home, which still sounds as fresh and exciting as it did on its initial release. The song marries country melodies with Colvin’s signature folk leanings and it became a huge crossover pop hit.

One of the things that surprises me about A Few Small Repairs is that Colvin had no concept for the record while writing and recording it, something she told me during our recent interview. If you didn’t know that and you listened to the album through, you’d think that every song was calculated and sequenced because it’s an incredibly cohesive listen. From the punchy Get Out of This House through to the more melodic and gentle Wichita Skyline, every song stands on its own and deserves its place on the record.

Highlights across the album include the beat-driven Trouble where Colvin admits ‘I go to the trouble like a magnet, that’s where I’ll be’, the candid and ponderous If I Were Brave where she sings of the frustration of life’s unexpected twists and turns, and the chirpily glorious Nothin’ On Me where Colvin finds the strength to move on from a bad situation.

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The live tracks that have been added to the album showcase Colvin’s expertise as as a performer. The acoustic version of Sunny Came Home, which was recorded live at KFOG, is actually better than the studio version. With just Colvin’s voice and her intricate guitar playing, the song resonates even stronger. Ricochet in Time, a song from Steady On, live at The Ryman is included too and it’s a nice addition.

Few artists manage to sound as good live as they do in a studio but Colvin makes it look easy. Her live renditions of The Facts About Jimmy and You and the Mona Lisa are stunning and she’s able to recreate the magic she does in the studio in her performances.
A Few Small Repairs is one of those albums that every music lover should have in their collection. It ranks as one of my all-time favourite albums and it’s such a wonderful and beautiful record. The addition of the live tracks really help to celebrate just how significant an album this was and how pivotal it’s been not only in Colvin’s career but as a record that opened doors for other female artists to achieve success.


Track listing: 1. Sunny Came Home 2. Get Out of This House 3. The Facts About Jimmy 4. You and The Mona Lisa 5. Trouble 6. I Want It Back 7. If I Were Brave 8. Wichita Skyline 9. 84,000 Different Delusions 10. Suicide Alley 11. New Thing Now 12. Nothin’ On Me 13. Sunny Came Home (Live at KFOG) 14. Trouble (Live from Columbia Records Radio Hour) 15. Get Out of This House 16. The Facts About Jimmy (Live at The Ryman) 17. You and the Mona Lisa (Live at The Ryman) 18. If I Were Brave (Live from Columbia Records Radio Hour) 19. Ricochet in Time (Live at The Ryman) Record Label: Sony Music Release Date: 15th September 2017

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