MUSIC: IRONIC, DON'TCHA THINK?

MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER AND SHAWN COLVIN CAN TEACH THEIR BETTER-SELLING JUNIORS A THING OR TWO

They soldier on, making their sweet piercing music, enjoying decent careers and, every couple of years, releasing a CD that enriches the pop-music vocabulary. Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin are close to the best there is in today's bounty of singer-songwriters. But hovering above them, like a gargantuan nightmare kid sister, is the brutal fact of Alanis Morissette, whose primal whining has moved 15 million copies of her first album. It must be a perplexity for Carpenter, whose songs have cannier pop hooks, and for Colvin, whose angst-filled anthems predated and surpassed Morissette's--though she's too polite to scream them.

On...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!