More than two decades ago, Shawn Colvin recorded a cover of Steve Earle’s “Someday,” softening the song’s country-rock punch and turning its narrator into a female gas station employee. At the time, she was a folksinger on the rise, with a Grammy award under her belt and a Number One single — “Sunny Came Home,” which would go on to knock the Wallflowers’ “One Headlight” from the top of the charts — on the horizon. Meanwhile, Earle was a pioneer who’d briefly lost his way, still reeling from a stint in jail while working his way toward a comeback.
The two find themselves on more equal ground with this summer’s Colvin & Earle, an album that introduces the songwriters as a proper folk duo. It’s a collaboration rooted in years of mutual appreciation, with Colvin and Earle sharing their first stage during a 1987 gig in Northampton, Massachusetts. In more recent years, they’ve teamed up for a handful of acoustic tour dates, serving as each other’s harmony partner and accompanist along the way. That same spirit fills Colvin & Earle‘s first single, “You’re Right (I’m Wrong)”, which makes its premiere today on Rolling Stone Country.
Backed by bandmates including Buddy Miller and the Wood Brothers’ Chris Wood, “You’re Right (I’m Wrong)” mixes baritone guitar, blue notes, harmonica and harmonies into a swampy, sickly-sweet swirl. Colvin and Earle sing every last syllable together, with Colvin’s voice sweetening Earle’s rough rasp. The two pack plenty of heat, but “You’re Right” never boils over, remaining at a steady simmer for four minutes. The overall effect is less Civil Wars, whose biggest songs seemed to trade understatement for vocal acrobatics, and more Raising Sand, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ harmonized home run from 2007.
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Earle, who calls the track ” the darkest piece on the record — a little scary even for Shawn and myself,” will spend most of the summer with his new duo partner. The two kick off their international tour on the album’s release date of June 10th and will remain on the road through mid-September, teaming up for the third installment of Earle’s annual songwriting retreat, Camp Copperhead, in late June.