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All Fall Down ()

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Shawn Colvin took a six-year break from the recording studio after the release of 2006's These Four Walls, biding her time with a live album in 2009, and on 2012's All Fall Down, Colvin shows she was clearly in the mood to try something different. While her frequent co-writer John Leventhal has produced most of her albums, for All Fall Down she went into the studio with Buddy Miller, one of the most distinctive songwriters and instrumentalists working in Nashville today, and the result ranks with Colvin's most satisfying work since the '90s. The tenor of Colvin's material hasn't changed much -- All Fall Down's 11 tracks, eight of which were co-written by Colvin, are full of stories about people struggling with the eternal conflicts of the heart, the soul, and the conscience, all delivered with Colvin's characteristic literacy and hard-won compassion. But the atmospheric soundscapes Miller and his studio crew have constructed for Colvin give the songs a gravity that's organic and otherworldly at once, and the way her voice melds with the broad spaces of Miller and Bill Frisell's guitars and the careful report of Brian Blade's drumming reinforces the musicality of her performances. "Knowing What I Know Now" and "Anne of a Thousand Days" are two of Colvin's best songs about love gone bitter, "American Jerusalem" and the title tune are thoughtful, pointed commentaries on the state of the union in 2012, and "The Neon Light of the Saints" generates a palpable Crescent City vibe in its tale of old gods pondering the present day. Colvin and Miller have brought some special guests on board for this album, including Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, and Jakob Dylan, but Colvin is still the most valuable player in this particular game; Buddy Miller may have given her some striking new musical backgrounds, but Colvin makes the most of them, and this work reaffirms her status as one of the leading artists in contemporary folk. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi Hide synopsis

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