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Despite the title of her latest release, Shawn Colvin has stayed loyal to her pop-folk sound. 

Heart Strings

Shawn Colvin's got her plate full. But even with a new album, a 2-year-old and a tour she's still found the time to compete in five triathlons since her daughter's birth. And she finished in an amazing top five in all five competitions.

Today, the pop-folk stylist is running a bit late for a scheduled telephone interview. She's calling from Boston in the middle of the tour that will bring her to Innsbrook on Wednesday. She sounds tired and not inclined to chat. Colvin apologizes for the slight hold-up. "Things backed up on me," the 45-year-old songwriter wearily explains.

A whirlwind of business and personal details no doubt backs up on Colvin these days. But the singer says life is good. She says she's delighted with her new CD, "Whole New You." Her daughter, Caledonia, and husband are also with her for this summer's run of 30 one-nighters, some of the gigs split bills with Lyle Lovett or Emmylou Harris.

Colvin's show features songs from her last five releases as well as tunes from her new CD, which — aside from a CD of children's lullabies — is her first since 1996's "A Few Small Repairs," the CD that propelled Colvin from a critic's darling with solid but modest CD sales into a Grammy-award winner. But if the fallout from her acclaim caused new pressure from her record label or if stardom's trappings have a downside, Colvin isn't letting on.

"There's not anything bad about it. ... I've had some opportunities that came my way ... I can't buy a Lear jet ... [but] I'm working on it."

Overall a better effort than "Repairs," the new album rings with inventive melodies and finely crafted lyrics. Co-written and co-produced by longtime collaborator John Leventhal, the 11 cuts feature basic arrangements of keyboard, guitar, percussion and bass with occasional strings or brass to frame the singer's haunting soprano. A sense of mystery and wonder in both love and life infuse the project. Colvin delivers the songs with a fragile yet straightforward certainty that gives even moody tunes a glimmer of light.

Colvin says she did not set out to create a "new sound" while gathering song ideas for this project. Each tune, she observes, takes its own course in its own time. But, if every angle of the project was not carved in stone from the onset, it doesn't imply Colvin's craft is a casual one.

"I was not consciously trying to do anything or change. ... [But] you concentrate hard."

Colvin started working on her vocal and songwriting chops when she began performing professionally at 18. Influenced by the Beatles, James Taylor and Paul Simon, the South Dakota native's first paying gigs were in southern Illinois. She drifted to Austin in the late '70s and soon pushed on to New York City, where she lived for the next 13 years. There she pursued her career (along with a gig as a back-up singer for Suzanne Vega) and met future collaborator Leventhal.

Colvin released a string of CDs in the '90s, finally striking it big with "Repairs" and the award winning hit "Sunny Came Home." In 1998 she took off nearly a year to have her child and settle into motherhood. In addition to her new mom duties, Colvin is an activist for community issues in her adopted hometown of Austin.

It's clear that on the road and off she's a satisfied lady. Family, fame and health make a nice package and she knows it.

As Colvin puts it: "I've really got the best of all worlds."



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