Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#956 in the Series) is Shawn Colvin, A Few Small Repairs
A Few Small Repairs is one of those albums that takes love gone wrong and turns what could be a litany of heartbreak and “woe-is-me” into an autobiographical purging, and the listener goes along for the ride with some soaring beautiful melodies punctuated with hard-knock lessons. Colvin didn’t come to the making of this album without a lot of hard work, learning guitar in her childhood in South Dakota and performing in The King and I as a teen, then like most of us had some twists and turns which led to this release, her fourth, in 1996.
The album opens with “Sunny Came Home,” a story about a woman who burns down her house to destroy her past. Since the album was released post-divorce for Colvin, it’s a brilliant opening that won Song of the Year and Record of the Year (with producer John Leventhal) and led to another example of odd moments at the Grammy’s when her speech was interrupted by Ol’ Dirty Bastard who was protesting his own loss. Good for Colvin for maintaining her composure, simply saying “I’m really confused now!” The album cover depicted a woman with a match (presumably Sunny), when in fact the painting was created by Colvin’s friend Julie Speed, who had created the work prior to the writing of the song. So, in effect, the song is written to the painting, not vice versa. Speed also had a painting called “A Few Small Repairs” which was sort of the runner-up for the album cover, but it was a rather disturbing image that probably wouldn’t have been well-received. Most likely a good choice!
The second track, “Get Out of This House” is a searing piece of work that probably has been rattling through some minds during a bad break-up, and lyrics such as “go back to your Momma, go back to high school” are certainly indicative of an “I’m done with you now” mindset.
Colvin had reteamed with producer John Leventhal for this album after he had produced her first and co-produced her second album, and after their personal relationship had ended. They cowrote this album together, and in her words “John and I gave each other the heave-ho after the first album, it was our offspring, if you will. But we salvaged the best part…We share a similar sense of longing and wonder and despair and hope, and each express them in a way that really moves the other.”
A Few Small Repairs reached #39 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart, and another song on the album “Nothin’ On Me” was the soundtrack to a now-long-gone sitcom, Suddenly Susan. I personally think it’s cooler that her rendition of “Viva Las Vegas” was playing over the closing credits of The Big Lebowski, but to each his own.
Colvin has released 3 more studio albums and 2 live recordings since A Few Small Repairs, but if you’re not familiar with this artist it’s a great place to start. Oh, and Happy Birthday to Shawn on January 10th. We look forward to more from you, something like “You and the Mona Lisa” to sing along to which is a pretty good way to spend a few minutes, or repeatedly.
All songs written and composed by Shawn Colvin and John Leventhal, except where noted
- “Sunny Came Home” 4:24
- “Get Out Of This House” 4:15
- “The Facts About Jimmy” 5:22
- “You And The Mona Lisa” 4:05
- “Trouble” (Colvin, Leventhal, Tom Littlefield) 4:18
- “I Want It Back” 4:55
- “If I Were Brave” (Colvin) 3:11
- “Wichita Skyline” 3:39
- “84,000 Different Delusions” 4:01
- “Suicide Alley” 5:29
- “What I Get Paid For (only on Sunny Came Home single)” 3:23
- “New Thing Now” (Colvin) 3:34
- “Nothin’ On Me” 3:56
- Shawn Colvin – guitar, vocals
- John Leventhal – electric guitars, acoustic guitars
- Michael Rhodes – bass
- Shawn Pelton – drums
- Official Shawn Colvin Website
- See Shawn on Tour, Here’s her Schedule
- See more albums from 1996 that we’ve featured
- Back to the Cool Album Home Page
Give it a listen below