Longtime pals Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle don’t quite mesh on their first album together; they’re two performers doing their own thing, just jointly. But whatever internal cohesiveness “Colvin & Earle” lacks is made up for by its warm, casual immediacy. There’s not a note on the album that doesn’t sound like it was recorded (and possibly mixed) live in the room. The performer flattered most by the album is the usually deliberate Colvin, whose own releases come across, even in their wilder moments, as so measured that just hearing her spit out a couple of songs quick and dirty is practically a revelation. Purely by virtue of singing in tandem with Earle, tracks like the grumbling “You’re Right (I’m Wrong)” pull her in his direction, which is the correct choice from the available options — clean harmonies be damned. “Colvin & Earle” is rough, just this side of ramshackle, and thoroughly charming.
ESSENTIAL “You’re Right (I’m Wrong)”
Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle perform at the Umbrella Community Arts Center, Concord, June 24.Marc Hirsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.