Whole New You

Whole New You

by Shawn Colvin
Shawn Colvin was at the top of her game the last time we saw her. You remember: It was the 1998 and her lovely, arson-laced classic "Sunny Came Home" from A Few Small Repairs nabbed Record of the Year and Song of the Year honors at the Grammys. Then, outside of touring a bit and releasing a quietly classy Christmas album,


Shawn Colvin was at the top of her game the last time we saw her. You remember: It was the 1998 and her lovely, arson-laced classic "Sunny Came Home" from A Few Small Repairs nabbed Record of the Year and Song of the Year honors at the Grammys. Then, outside of touring a bit and releasing a quietly classy Christmas album, there was nothing but silence. It was enough to make a fan start worrying. Well, Colvin's wonderful new (eighth) album, Whole New You, should assuage fans' fears about her future productivity -- and may even win her a few more. With the help of longtime collaborator John Leventhal (and, on one track, pen pal Edie Brickell), she's assembled a gorgeous set of folk-tinged pop songs that you'll want to leave in the CD player for weeks. The highlight is "Anywhere You Go," a surefire hit on par with "Sunny." Tracks such as "Bonefields" and "Another Plane Went Down" are about difficult, melancholy subjects -- like having nowhere to turn when loved ones die, or contending with nightmares -- but Colvin's warm, earthy singing makes them go down with incredible ease. As she ages, her voice only gets richer and her lyrics all the more meaningful. Whole New You isn't really a whole new Colvin, but it's definitely a triumphant return.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
Whole New You is an appropriate title for Shawn Colvin's fourth studio album of new material, her first in four-and-a-half years. Much has happened in the interim. In career terms, Colvin had made several modestly selling albums before A Few Small Repairs appeared in the fall of 1996. The album was another modest seller until "Sunny Came Home" hit the singles charts in the spring of 1997, going on to hit number one on the adult contemporary lists and the Top Ten on the pop charts. Then it won the Song of the Year and Record of the Year Grammys, while A Few Small Repairs spent a year in the charts and sold close to a million copies. That means that Colvin can no longer be considered a niche artist, but must compete in the mainstream, even though she is actually a one-hit wonder up to this point. She reacted as you might suspect an artist would after a breakthrough release; she maintained her exposure by doing a Christmas album and some soundtrack work while taking her time on a follow-up. Personally, her life has been at least as tumultuous. A Few Small Repairs was her divorce album, but during the lengthy run-up to Whole New You she remarried and had a child, which clearly has given her a different perspective (and another reason for that title). Within all this change, however, there are certain constants. She continues to collaborate with writer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist John Leventhal, who continues to come up with imaginative musical tracks clearly informed by mid-'60s pop sensibilities. The title track (and first single), for example, is distinctly Beatles-esque, with twangy guitar and George Martin-style spare string arrangement, while "Bonefields" employs what by now should be called the Burt Bacharach Memorial Horn Trick, a sole flugelhorn playing a countermelody at the end of the tune. The arrangements are full of such echoes, but they remain echoes; Leventhal weaves instruments and effects together evocatively, but not overtly. Something similar can be said about Colvin's lyrics, which she sings in her characteristically becalmed voice, with its timbre that suggests Helen Kane (the "boop-boop-de-doop" girl) without the humor and her phrasing that gulps syllables for emotional resonance. Though she is given to making simple statements, they are imbedded in impressionistic reflections on life. Over and over, she sings of being committed, whether she wants to be or not: "I can't find my way to stay and I can't find my way to go and I can't give up without a fight" ("A Matter of Minutes"); "Anywhere you go I will go there" ("Anywhere You Go"); "I'm bound to you and there's no in-between" ("Bound to You"). In a sense, the album's 11 tracks make up one elliptical song in which the narrator thinks about the choices she has made recently with a sense that those choices are irrevocable. For the most part, she doesn't mind that, it seems, but she's certainly aware of it. Amid the various references to steadfastness and the allusions to childhood, there is little passion, but plenty of clear-headed acceptance. This is an album about marriage and family, not love, at least not the kind of romantic love that most pop songs are concerned with; in fact, the word "love" is never mentioned. For that reason, the most interesting song is the most complex one, "Another Plane Went Down," a seemingly random assemblage of news reports and nightmares that, in its way, feeds into the album's main theme. After all, to have a sense that you have finally found a home that depends on your relationship to other people is to fear that some accident will take it away from you. Whole New You may not contain a song that will spark sales and awards the way "Sunny Came Home" did ("Bound to You" would make a great single, though), but anyone who, like the artist herself, has come to the safe harbor of family life (even with its many challenges) after a long, uncertain voyage through personal relationships and life experiences will appreciate Colvin's ruminations on the subject.

Product Details

Release Date:
Sony Mod - Afw Line


  1. Matter Of Minutes
  2. Whole New You
  3. Nothing Like You
  4. Anywhere You Go
  5. Bonefields
  6. Another Plane Went Down
  7. Bound To You
  8. Roger Wilco
  9. Mr. Levon
  10. One Small Year
  11. I'd Say I'm Sorry Now

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Shawn Colvin   Primary Artist,Strings,Vocals
Marc Cohn   Background Vocals
James Taylor   Harmony
Joe Bonadio   Percussion
Larry Farrell   Trombone
Tony Garnier   Upright Bass
Tony Kadleck   Flugelhorn
John Leventhal   Banjo,Bass,Guitar,Percussion,Keyboards
Sandra Park   Violin
Shawn Pelton   Percussion,Drums
Michael Rhodes   Bass
Joe Quigley   Bass
Kenny White   Background Vocals
RIck DePofi   Clarinet,Bass Clarinet,Piccolo,Recorder,Tenor Saxophone
Eileen Moon   Cello
Robert Rinehart   Viola
Fiona Simon   Violin
Alan Stepansky   Cello

Technical Credits

Stephen Barber   String Arrangements
Craig Bishop   Engineer
Joe Bonadio   Drum Fills
John Leventhal   Producer,Engineer,Horn Arrangements,String Arrangements
Fred Remmert   Engineer
RIck DePofi   Engineer
Tom Schick   Engineer
Mary Maurer   Art Direction
David Boucher   Engineer
Noah Simon   Engineer
Gina Fant-Saez   Engineer
Matt Kane   Engineer

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