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ALBUM REVIEWS / POP

Shawn Colvin, "A Few Small Repairs," Columbia. (** 1/2)

November 06, 1996|STEVE HOCHMAN

Poor Shawn Colvin. Not because she had to endure a bitter divorce--she seems to have recovered adequately, with a solid song-cycle to show for it in her fourth album, which is marked by enticing melodies and a wide range of folk-rock settings for her impressive vocal gifts.

But her timing is bad. "Repairs" comes in the wake of the '90s standard for break-up songs, Alanis Morissette's razor-edged, expletive-laced "You Oughta Know." On its own terms, the purging of Colvin's "Get Out of the House," the album's most rocking song, makes a comparable declaration of independence, and "The Facts About Jimmy" (with guest Lyle Lovett) is dark and sardonic.

Still, at 40, Colvin speaks from--and to--a different sensibility than Morissette does and distances herself from youthful anger. In the closing "New Things Now," she smirks at the Alanises and Courtneys of pop culture: "All the other girls are still at war."

The problem is that Colvin is hardly the first singer-songwriter to address such matters, and "Repairs" doesn't really add anything new to the discussion. But it's an effective sharing of an experience both personal and universal.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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