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Sheryl Crow: Be Myself (2017)

Sheryl Crow is back with her ninth studio album, Be Myself. The album has been marketed as Crow’s return to her pop/rock roots since her biggest hit albums of the 90’s; Tuesday Night Music Club and Sheryl Crow & The Globe Sessions. Now with her latest release, she’s even gone as far as reuniting with Jeff Trott and Tchad Blake, her old collaborators/producers who were responsible for those aforementioned albums and the biggest hits like, If it Makes You Happy and Everyday is a Winding Road.

Personally, I’m always a little skeptical when I hear of an artist or group trying to get in touch with their “roots” or their “classic” sound. Most of the time, it’s usually just a marketing ploy to garner interest for an established artist’s latest release.

Because Sheryl Crow is one of those artists who was lucky and talented enough to be able to expand her musical palate in such genres as soul, RnB, folk, and country, naturally, I was hesitant to give this latest release a listen. However, just like that fabled cat…. curiosity got the best of me.

As well, when someone like Sheryl Crow goes in search of what made her a rock star to begin with, there’s usually a trade-off like stifling musical growth or going down the all too familiar road whereby the new song sounds like something we’ve heard before. With this being said, Be Myself is a mixed bag. Let me start with what I liked about the album.

Be Myself is the most rock oriented record from Crow in over a decade and definitely will reconnect her with her old time fans. It touches upon her “classic” sound, evoking that old Stones swagger that has been sorely missing from her last couple of releases. But, the best part of Be Myself, is that Trott and Blake bring back that conversational tone in Crow’s songs. Each song sounds like Crow is talking directly to the listener, giving us her honest opinion on politics, depression, love, life & technology. For me, that conversational tone is what made her such a hit, all those years ago. It’s her uncanny ability to make the listener believe that we are not just hearing a pop song, but we are part of the conversation with her. And that believing that we were part of something with her is the reason why so many of her songs resonate with us .

But now for the trade off, as dark as some of subject matter is on this album, the arrangements simply don’t help in conveying the urgency or darkness of the lyrics. Sheryl Crow’s revival of her classic sound is a safe one, trading off dark subject with pleasant arrangements in the hope of getting played on classic radio stations. There is nothing wrong with getting played on the radio, but it seems like a wasted opportunity, and some of the songs suffer for it. Most notably the opening track, Alone in the Dark, a song about getting burned by a lover who capitalizes on Crow’s celebrity. Sheryl Crow has always been more engaging when her gloves come off. Just go back and take a listen to her second album and you’ll see what I mean.

Still, all in all, if you missed the old Sheryl Crow , Be Myself is a solid return to form , albeit a safe one.

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