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All Fall Down

4.0 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

On All Fall Down, Shawn Colvin's third Nonesuch disc, the singer-songwriter enlisted as producer her longtime friend and occasional band-mate, guitarist Buddy Miller. The sessions, at Miller's home studio in Nashville, Tennessee, were distinguished, as Colvin describes them, by a kind of back-porch bonhomie. An open-door policy encouraged drop-ins from a number of stellar musicians, including singers Emmylou Harris, Allison Krauss, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Jakob Dylan as well as fiddle-player extraordinaire Stuart Duncan. The easygoing atmosphere, however, did not prevent the incisive Colvin, on these 11 new tracks, from examining some hard cold truths. Artfully pared-down arrangements mirror the compelling emotional directness of Colvin's songs, in which she addresses the dissolution of a relationship with the sort of dry-eyed candor that has long been a hallmark of her work. The material often took shape with Colvin performing live in the studio, singing and playing acoustic guitar, and the tracks were then subtly embellished by an impressive ad hoc combo Miller had convened, featuring Bill Frisell on electric guitar, Viktor Krauss on bass, and Brian Blade on drums.
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Digital Booklet: All Fall Down
Digital Booklet: All Fall Down
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 5, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B007SUW22Y
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,917 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Forrest Walker on June 7, 2012
Format: Audio CD
So many negative reviews here. I have a feeling that if you give this record 3-4 weeks to really soak in, some of you people are going to come back and retract or re-write your reviews. I find this record to be a welcome change from, "These Four Walls" in terms of it being a more serious and mature work. The truth is that we get so comfortable with classics such as, "Fat City" or "A Few Small Repairs" and when something different comes out, we immediately say things like, "She has fallen off the wagon." Why would we want another "Fat City" when we have already had that? Don't we want our artists to continue to surprise us? One of the things that I love about Colvin is her raw energy and the fact that she is not afraid to release a record that is a reflection of where she is in life. Anything produced by Buddy Miller is going to be quality and what about the beautiful background vocals from Emmylou Harris and Julie Miller on the last track?! The last two tracks are among some of her most beautiful songs--especially the album closer. Don't forget that there is also a Patty Griffin co-write on here as well as a Jakob Dylan song--hard to beat those two. Is this her best record? Probably not but it is also far from her worst--give this a chance to soak in before you slam it and you will be rewarded. While I am not a fan of the album cover, I am a fan of this "outside the box" album.
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Format: Audio CD
They toss around your latest golden egg/Speculation well who's to know/If the next one in the nest/Will glitter for them so/Just when you're getting a taste for worship/They start bringing out the hammers/And the boards/And the nails. Those lyrics were written by another emotionally fearless singer-songwriter who was known to hold the occasional cigarette on an album cover. Probably the most musically insightful review here was written by Forrest, and then he ruins it by moralizing, about smoking I guess. Where are the true believers? Yes, this is a stripped down and bare breakup album and Buddy Miller had the good sense and taste to produce it as such. It sounds different than Shawn's other albums. So what? Listen to the songs. Shawn is a songwriter first and foremost and these are fine songs. (The music and the musicians are amazing but that's another story - Thank you, Emmylou!) If the subject matter is dark, so be it. I'll take a good sad song over upbeat and Pollyanna any day. Life is suffering folks and an artist like Ms. Colvin pulls up lyrics from her own personal well of sorrow. The alchemy in listening comes when we realize her life is not so different from our own. This is the literature of consolation, when a writer, in sharing her life, is able to make us feel less alone and desolate in our own. It's a paradox but we need the darkness to illuminate the light. Joy and love are fleeting and a blessing when they find us. Colvin writes from both the light and the darkness. She's made songs that are beautiful and useful since her arrival with "Steady On". I thank her for the strength and comfort her music brings, gifts that will hopefully go on.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
I've been in love with Shawn Colvin ever since I first heard "Steady On" in 1989. She is one of my all-time favorite female singer/songwriters, and most likely always will be. She has a unique voice and style that sets here apart in a class by herself. That's not to say that I put her on a pedestal-- there are others that I also hold in very high esteem. But there's something about Shawn...

After reading some of the other reviews of this album I felt compelled to add my own comments. To be honest, I wasn't grabbed by this disc the first time I heard it either. Good, I thought, but not great. In fact, it was a few weeks before I listened to it again. This afternoon, after a particularly difficult day a work, I decided to mellow out to some music and a cold beer. Remembering that this disc was somewhat "downbeat", I decided that maybe it would be a good choice. Besides, I've often found that an album that doesn't particularly impress me at first will sometimes strike me completely differently later, in a different time and when I'm in a different space. So I put it on.

You know what? This is a great album. No, I won't put it in the same class as "Steady On" or "Fat City", my two favorites of Shawn's earlier albums. But that having been said, it's damn good. Yes, it's moody and melancholy. No, it doesn't rock. But in the right place and time, it can be the perfect choice. I'm probably not going to listen to this one every day. But when the time is right-- definitely. Excellent musicianship, that great voice... in short, it's still Shawn, perhaps just from a different perspective. Maybe it was the juxtaposition from J.J. Cale (who I listened to first today) to this album that made the difference, I really don't know.
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Format: Audio CD
Six years later, Shawn Colvin finally has a new disk with 'All Fall Down'. In certain ways, I feel I should wait a month or 12 to review this disk, but it's the only new music I have to write about.

The reason for my potential delay is how long it took for her 'Whole New You' disk to grow on me. If you read fan reviews of that disk, it seems to be people's least favourite Colvin disk. It's allegedly Shawn's least favourtie too. For me, it ranks as her best. I'm not sure what that says about me - or her / them.

But i took me a while to get there with that one.

Her last disk, 'These Four Walls', save 3-4 songs, really quite bored me. I could not get into it. I still can't. But I had hope for her new disk. For the first time in a long time, she was not using John Leventhal as a producer. While I think overall their collaborations have gone well, I can see a need for a break/change, but I'm not sure Buddy Miller was the wisest choice for the job.

While Colvin clearly has worked with him in the past, her music is more centered around folk-pop than country-bluegrass, which are his strengths.

The result is a very mixed disk in terms of success. It doesn't suck, but it doesn't shine.

I was disappointed to see the track list included "Fall of Rome". Originally it was released as a bonus track on Whole New You (2001) if you bought the Borders version. That original track is leaps and bounds better than the rerecorded version here. And it's already been done, so I feel short-changed a track since this is her first disk in six years.

Ditto with "American Jerusalem" which has been kicking around out there since before her debut back in 1989.
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