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Shawn Colvin gets a makeover in her new album ''A Few Small Repairs''

Grammy-winning folk singer hopes for more fans with a new look

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Shawn Colvin, darling of the New Folk scene, is in her manager’s office peering through a photographer’s loupe at some glamorous — and decidedly unfolkie — images of herself. It’s one small sign that she means business. After four albums, one Grammy (in 1990, for Best Contemporary Folk Recording), and three Grammy nominations, the 40-year-old has intensely devoted fans…there just aren’t enough of them. So Colvin’s label, Columbia Records, is pinning its hopes on a makeover — and the tunefulness and ferocity of her new album A Few Small Repairs. The record literally re-pairs Colvin with producer John Leventhal, the man who guided her Grammy-winning debut Steady On, and who was Colvin’s lover through much of the ’80s. Leventhal, now married to Rosanne Cash, also cowrote Repairs with Colvin. ”John and I gave each other the heave-ho after the first album; it was our offspring, if you will,” Colvin says. ”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.”

Love gone awry has inspired Colvin once again. You could consider Repairs the soundtrack to her recent divorce (from road manager Simon Tassano) and newfound midlife confidence. A study in contrasts — cover-girl features; angelic, hard-knocks voice; and the muscular arms of a woman who has been slinging a well-played guitar for decades — Colvin has survived years of grueling tours, and her share of personal demons, including drinking and depression. ”My battles have been mine, and they’ve been real,” she says carefully. The plus side, Colvin insists, is that ”when people hear my music there’s an understanding there; it’s not just superficial self-involvement.”

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