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Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin

Derby Assembly Rooms 17 October 2012

On Wednesday night, I found myself in familiar surroundings at the Derby Assembly Rooms for an intimate acoustic evening with two of America's greatest female singer songwriters, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin, together, no support, no backing band, just them and their guitars complimenting their beautiful voices. You could really appreciate what fantastic vocalists they are. Having enjoyed Mary's music from being a young child, I've always loved her voice, but I don't think I had ever really appreciated how deep and rich it is. Colvin's voice is very lovely too, and they go together perfectly especially when Colvin is taking the lead and Chapin sings harmony above her.
 
Hardly surprising then that they kicked off the evening together with a really lovely version of Donovan's Catch the Wind, which appears on Colvin's latest album. Then a Mary Chapin song, I Have a Need for Solitude, from her 2010 album THE AGE OF MIRACLES. Following this, the pair played one solo number each, Shawn chose her song, Trouble, while Mary gave a taste of her latest album ASHES AND ROSES with Chasing What's Already Gone, which is my personal favourite from the album. This album in Chapin's words is a 'narrative arc' and covers times in her life from divorce, depression and joy. A lovely album, but for me, there is not enough about joy, however on the evening she did pick my favourites, so that was ok.
 
Another song together followed, a cover this time of Paul Simon's The Only Living Boy in New York, which was absolutely brilliant. More solo songs from each, Colvin, sang her song Diamond in the Rough, which turned out to be my favourite from her on the night; it has been stuck in my head ever since. Carpenter chose another from her latest album with What To Keep and What to Throw Away. It was at this point that I was sat there thinking 'three new songs in a row, very nice, thank you, but I need a hit here soon Mary'. She must have read my mind, as her next song was the old favourite, This Shirt, and a great version too. Their next choice, together was Colvin's own composition A Change is on the Way, followed by the interesting choice of Crowded House's Four Seasons in One Day and a really nice version of Steve Earle's Someday.
 
The next highlight came just before the encore in the form of a fabulous version of Mary Chapin's classic song, The Hard Way, really good to hear this again. A four song encore was to follow consisting of two more covers songs and one solo number from each. Colvin performed her song Therapy and Carpenter another song from her new album. As a Mary Chapin fan, I could have done with one more old song, but I'm sure the Shawn Colvin fans in the audience were thinking the same thing. The final cover songs ranged from Tom Waits' Hold On to the beautiful That's the Way Love Goes (Lefty Frizzell), finishing off another wonderful evening. 
 
Sam Hindley
Northern Sky