By SCOTT CUNNINGHAM // Folk icons join forces for new album
Folk icons Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle have taken a break from their accomplished solo careers to join forces for a new album, 'Colvin & Earle', which was released in June.
The pair hit Portland Tuesday evening when they appear at Revolution Hall.
Although Colvin and Earle have each strayed into other genres during their long careers, they are both folk artists at their cores and it was folk music that brought them together for their new album.
The two have know each other for years and had occasionally performed together after Colvin had recorded one of Earle's songs (Someday) on her 1994 release 'Cover Girl.' However, it wasn't until Colvin invited Earle to join her on a package tour that they began to forge a deeper bond.
"I wanted to do something that was sharing the stage with someone, where we would swap songs and eventually play and sing with one another. And I thought of Steve," Colvin explains.
The two quickly discovered something magical in the performances.
"When I sang and played with him and he sang and played with me, somemthing special went on, we sounded really good together. It was his idea to make a record after we had been on the road for a month or so."
Colvin was skeptical that the idea would actually come to fruition. Carving time out of the schedules of two busy solo artists to record and tour together is difficult.
The two made the commitment to each other and the project, recording the album in a ten day stretch in Buddy Miller's studio. Writing and recording the album was close to effortless, as the two recently that they were a natural pairing.
"We didn't have to work on it, which is part of the beautry of it, it just happened. Sometimes that happens, it's sort of like a familial thing almost like we're related, brother or sister. The voices just blend. The writing process was not difficult either, there just seems to be a shorthand that happens in our musical selves."
The resulting album is a wonderful listen and is almost certain to be nominated for a Grammy Award. The album contains ten tracks, six originals and four covers.
Selecting the covers came just as easily for the pair as the rest of the project.
"We each brought in two covers and there was no debate. Steve brought in Ruby Tuesday and You Were On My Mind. I brought in Raise the Dead, the Emmylou Harris song and Tobacco Road. We just gave them a try and we were right on in terms of what worked for us."
The originals range from the driving rhythms of Come What May and Tell Moses to the cut down, almost raw, You're Still Gone.
At its heart, the album is straight up folk and the tracks are carried with masterful guitar from the pair. Miller, a masterful player in his own right, and Richard Bennett add additional guitar layers, resulting in a lush backdrop for the harmonies of Colvin and Earle.
As our conversation progressed, it became clear that Colvin is enjoying her place in life and the musical world.
"I'm just having a good time. I think when we get older, life's too short for a lot of drama.
"I don't feel like I'm 60 years old, whatever that's supposed to mean. I'm playing as good as I ever have and singing as good as I ever have. There's a lot of people from my generation and my era that are still really vital and I'm just grateful that I still have a job doing it."
Although the album was recorded with backing instruments, the pair will appear alone on Tuesday night at Revolution Hall.
"That was important to us because of the way this partnership started and before we recorded anything, as we were writing and covering the songs, we made sure that they would work as a stripped down duo. As Steve puts it, we could be in the subway busking. We can pull it off that way and we very much wanted to. I think we do the songs justice in that format."
ON TOUR: Colin & Earle appear Tuesday, August 23, 2016. Doors are at 7:00pm for the 21+ show. Tickets are still available as of this writing.