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Concert Reviews:
Colvin & Earle prove a perfect pair at SoundBoard

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Saturday, July 30, 2016

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DETROIT -- There's a bit of a Beauty & the Beast aspect to the pairing of Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle.

Colvin's singing is pure, for the most part, sweet; Earle's is gritty and gruff. She comes from folk, with a leaning towards the melancholy; His country roots come with an angry, more aggressive edge. On Friday night, July 29, at SoundBoard in the Motor City Casino Hotel, she appeared summery in a floral top, while Earle, in his denims and black T-shirt, looked like he had just steered his Harley to the stage door.

As Colvin & Earle, however, they went together musically as easy as the wood and strings on their acoustic guitar.

The duo's self-titled album, released in June, is one of the year's true delights, and in concert Colvin & Earle were even better. The 95-minute, 19-song show -- just the two of them and their instruments, sans band -- was an intimate song pull, with the duo showcasing not only the album but other choice work from throughout their careers, fleshed-out with insightful introductions (some longer than the songs themselves) that made SoundBoard feel as much like a living room or campfire as a concert club.

Colvin & Earle offered considerable commentary about the covers that dotted the show, starting with the Everly Brothers' "Wake Up Little Susie." Earle explained that "I learned to play tennis racket" to the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday" and Colvin talked about how Emmylou Harris' "Raise The Dead" as part of their "cover fantasy camp" and how J.D. Loudermilk's "Tobacco Road" came out of her addiction to the 60's On 6 SiriusXM channel. Earle introduced his 1986 hit "Someday" with a lengthy recounting of his early days in Nashville, and how Colvin's recording of the song in 1994 was a rare moment of light while he was serving a prison sentence at the time.

And before "Tell Moses," the charged gospel stomp from the "Colvin & Earle" album, Earle -- who played guitar, mandolins and harmonica throughout the set -- detailed how he and Colvin chose the various real-life characters that populate the song and also the impact of producing Israeli singer-songwriter David Broza's 2014 "East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem" album in that town.

The set covered nearly all 10 tracks from "Colvin & Earle" and made room for their individual favorites, including Colvin's "Sunny Came Home" and "That Don't Worry me Now" and Earle's ""Burnin' It Down" and "The Galway Girl," the latter of which he pointed out would be Irish city's European Capitol of Culture theme song in 2020. The encore included the Beatles' "Baby's In Black" and finished with a one-two punch of Colvin's "Diamond in the Rough" and Earle's "Copperhead Road."

It was one of those cases where one plus one equaled more than two, and left those at SoundBoard hoping that Colvin & Earle will be a going concern well into the future.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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