Picks and Pans Review: Steady on

updated 04/09/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/09/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Shawn Colvin

Like her fellow troubadour Suzanne Vega, who sings backup on this LP, Colvin writes stark, intimate songs. Poetry isn't a word relevant to most lyric writers today, but Colvin weaves dead-on imagery like a master. On "Diamond in the Rough," she explores the melancholy of lost youth, using a precious stone as a metaphor. The precariousness of a good relationship, even in its best patches, is the topic of "Shotgun Down the Avalanche," the album's most stunning track.

Colvin's voice is a cross between Janis Ian and Emmylou Harris, and she uses the same technique of dropping into a speaking tone that Vega and grande dame Joni Mitchell have employed. But lumping her together with such mellow compatriots would be a misrepresentation. Colvin is a more aggressive singer, and she displays enough original dynamic flourishes to help keep the folkie revival stoked. (Columbia)

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