Humility isn't necessarily the hallmark of the singer-songwriter. What helps make Shawn Colvin—a pretty good writer and even better singer—more endearing than most is a properly reverential attitude toward her forebears and even contemporaries. First and foremost, Colvin, who performed Saturday at the Wiltern Theatre, seems to be a fan.
That's evident enough from her third album, COVER GIRL, which consists entirely of other writers' material. Half these songs showed up in the show, aided by musician's musicians Stewart Smith on guitar and Larry Klein on bass—including pretty versions of Tom Waits' Heart Of Saturday Night and Steve Earle's Someday.
The humility was more evident still when, mid-set, Colvin acknowledged the tremor in her voice as she introduced Klein's ex, Joni Mitchell, who emerged and did two numbers of her own, even as the adulatory host briefly exited the stage. Inviting your heroine to take over your show, then deigning to follow that rapturously received spot—now that's chutzpah. Or perhaps foolishness.
But Colvin didn't seem unduly foolhardy as she resumed bringing to bear on songs a sweet, gliding voice that seems to combine the best qualities of honey and air. When, as her traditional encore, she further acknowledged roots by turning her own POLAROIDS into a comically endless medley of snippets of every pop hit that ever enjoyed a remotely similar groove, she made you want to hear every allusion at full length.
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