These Four Walls
First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2006, Volume 13, #9
Written by John Metzger
For her first outing in five years, Shawn Colvin jumped to the more adventurous confines of the Nonesuch label. Nevertheless, These Four Walls is a strikingly conservative affair. Filled with songs about love and loss, the album largely finds Colvin comfortably settling into the sort of easy-going, subtly textured folk-rock that mature singer/songwriters have a tendency to make. Lyrically, Colvin remains at the top of her game, and throughout the set, she neither poses questions nor provides answers. Instead, she poetically captures the emotional conflicts that are at war within the souls of her characters. On Fill Me Up, for example, she struggles with committing to a relationship, while on the subsequent title track, she wearily resigns herself to making it work. Elsewhere, the rebellion of Tuff Kid gives way to the bruised liberation of Summer Dress, and the teary-eyed pining of Venetian Blue mutates into the awkward longing of So Good to See You.
The problem with These Four Walls, however, lies with the music that she and longtime producer John Leventhal have concocted. Although the entirety of the effort is pleasantly delivered, it also is, quite simply, too tasteful and polite. For all of its playfulness, Fill Me Up could have used a little more bite, and there is a seemingly never-ending stream of mid-tempo tracks, all of which spring from the same single-minded set of safely approved components. Only the punchy, Elvis Costello-ish intonations of The Bird and the manner in which Colvin, Patty Griffin, and Marc Cohn merge their voices on Cinnamon Road succeed in dispelling the monochromatic overtones that threaten to suffocate the affair. Colvin is too good a songwriter to become completely mired within the ensuing mediocrity, but at times on These Four Walls, itís difficult to discern the sharper edges of her lyrics when her arrangements are so clean, so smooth, and so unremarkable.
Of Further Interest...
These Four Walls is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box