The striking comparisons are evident in how these two highly acclaimed artists have crafted a vast catalogue of songs that have flittered around the edges of the country and folk music scene as well as the occasional flirtation with mainstream pop. Yet contrasts do exist in the tone of their vocal deliveries in addition to the more polished guitar sound from Carpenter when compared to the edgy and rawer vibes coming from Colvin’s frequently tuned string accompaniment. The egalitarian approach to song selection gave the audience the perfect opportunity to enjoy the contrasts and the healthy applause indicated an evenly distributed praise, although Carpenter probably has the more recent higher profile especially after a successful UK tour a couple of years ago.
Both artists have recently been proactive in the studio and took full opportunity to promote some of this new material for the first time. Highlights from Colvin’s latest release titled ALL FALL DOWN, an album featuring all the hallmark of its producer Buddy Miller, were the title track and ‘Change is on the Way’. As usual with a Mary Chapin Carpenter release, the moods and personality of the originator is stamped all over the offering and during the evening the audience had the pleasure of listening to ‘Transcendental Reunion’, ‘What To Keep and What To Throw Away’ and ‘Chasing What’s Already Gone’ from her summer release ASHES AND ROSES. New songs are the life blood of a progressive singer-songwriter and, while nostalgia can have its appeal, it’s important such shows don’t descend into clichéd retro-events.
|Mary Chapin Carpenter|
This leads us conveniently onto the duo’s numerous interpretations of some of their favourite singer-songwriter material. Paul Simon’s ‘Only Living Boy in New York’ and ‘Someday’ by Steve Earle represented the States. Neil Finn’s ‘Four Seasons in One Day’ was a selection from down under while, in preparation for an upcoming Liverpool date, a sublime version of the Beatles’ ‘I’ll Be Back’ entertained the audience. The ladies left their best cover until last when they revisited their Nashville influence with an enjoyable version of Merle Haggard’s ‘That’s the Way Love Goes’. A rousing end to a brave venture that may or may not be repeated but did give a rare opportunity for fans to enjoy the talents of Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin on a single stage on one evening.