“Tentative between songs with a self-deprecating streak” describes the stage presence of so many great singer/songwriters — they’re not known as the sensitive ones for nothing. But was Shawn Colvin trying to tell us something when she picked the Gnarls Barkley hit “Crazy” as her opening number for her recent concert at the Lobero? Probably not, as Colvin is known for her imaginative repertoire of cover songs, a resource she drew on throughout the night. There was also a splendid, melancholy version of “I’ll Be Back,” a number from the Beatles’ album A Hard Day’s Night that was mostly written by John Lennon, plus tunes by Tom Waits and Graham Nash.
In performing her own best songs like “Polaroid” and “Sunny Came Home,” Colvin demonstrated how much she has gained from recent musical partnerships with such major talents as producer/guitarist Buddy Miller, and singer/songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter. When Colvin’s friend Jackson Browne walked onto the stage to sing a pair of his songs, the audience got to see and hear this kind of high-level collaboration. What began as a solo show suddenly became an intimate jam session. The pair played two of Browne’s songs, “Something Nice” and “The Next Voice You Hear,” and the connection between these two sensitive ones shone brightly, leaving a warmth that infused the rest of the set.