Although she burst onto the scene as a leading light of the new folk movement in the 1980s, winning the Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Recording with her debut album, Steady On, Shawn Colvin came from an eclectic background that included rock, western swing, and diverse experiences as a prized session singer. That all meant that when she got around to writing her own material—usually with John Leventhal's music vividly illuminating her sculpted lyrics—there arose numerous dimensions beyond the standard folk lexicon. Her introspection was often deeply, even painfully personal, reflecting the ups and downs of her life, but also thrillingly precipitous ("Shotgun Down the Avalanche"), ripe with rebellious spirit ("Tennessee"), even murderous ("Sunny Came Home"). Those are among the familiar songs on last summer's Live (Nonesuch), culled from three solo performances at Yoshi's in San Francisco and essentially a career retrospective featuring songs from all her albums. Paring things down to just her golden, autumnal voice and quietly elegant guitar work, Colvin is at once intimate and expansive in scope, glowing in the very flame of her creative spark and further burnishing the quality of her tunes. There are three lovely covers—Robbie Robertson's "Twilight," the Talking Heads' "This Must Be the Place," and Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy"—serving as reminders that she's also a great interpreter too. It'll be the same deal at the Dakota: intimate solo performances at a great jazz club.
Tuesdays-Thursdays, 7 p.m. Starts: Jan. 26. Continues through Jan. 28, 2010