SOMERVILLE — If gratitude could be measured, Shawn Colvin’s would have been off the charts Thursday at the Somerville Theatre.
Over the course of her 85-minute show, we counted about 30 song titles among audience members’ shouted requests. Less than a handful of the pleas we heard were for Colvin’s best-known songs. None of this was lost on her as she marveled, “The first time I played here, I had 12 songs to play.”
Over the past 25 years Colvin has amassed a loyal audience that has supported her so she could record many more, and for that she was grateful. That Colvin chose to play a clutch of tunes from her superb new album “All Fall Down” and omit many of her singles — including her Grammy winner “Sunny Came Home” — and still drew rapturous ovations said much about the power of her musical connection to her audience, always strong in Boston, and the sterling quality of her voice. The packed house wasn’t there for the hits, but for the singer and songwriter of tunes of self-searching questions, compassion, humor, and sweet melody.
Armed only with her acoustic guitar and a voice that is still creamy and girlish with a thread of steely resolve, Colvin delivered all of the above with perfect pitch and quiet charm.
She worked through early favorites like “Steady On” and “Diamond in the Rough” — also the title of her recently released memoir — and new tunes from “All Fall Down,” including the seductive heartbreaker “Seven Times the Charm” and the surging title track. She wryly pointed out these songs may have been new to the audience, but “in a couple of years, they’re going to be the old ones.”
Always an eager interpreter, Colvin also tackled several covers, including “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley and “Hold On” by Tom Waits.
She closed the night by dedicating Jimmy Webb’s beautiful “If These Walls Could Speak” to the crowd, leaning heavily on the lyrics “if these old walls could speak/they would tell you that I owe you/more than I could ever pay/here’s someone who really loves you/don’t ever go away.” Judging by the response, the audience felt the same way.