Monday, February 4, 2008

Sheryl Crows, We Listen

Riding in the car with my father over Winter Break this year, Sheryl Crow's new single, "Love Is Free," came on the radio.

"You hear this song, and it's hard to believe it came from the woman who sang 'Leaving Las Vegas,'" he said to me.

While my dad may have a legitimate axe to grind with the lovely Miss Crow, I think he failed to realize that variety has always been essential to her career. Sheryl Crow may have a distinct sound, but she certainly doesn't stick within any genre. "Love Is Free" is just her latest experiment.

The single is a cut from Crow's new album Detours which will be released on February 5. While it may not pack the emotional punch of much of her earlier work, it's a strong single. Crow didn't outlast (and outpace) virtually all of her contemporaries by adhering to a formula.

Crow is the rare artist who can play pop, rock, and country, without seeming false. She effortlessly straddles genres and collaborates with legends while still holding her own.

Crow's pop songs are sheer fun. They're meant to be blasted in convertibles as they speed down the highway. They're hand-crafted singalongs. Maybe "Soak Up The Sun" was a little too far pop for even the most rabid Crow fans, but "All I Wanna Do" is just the right amount of pop with a splash of honky-tonk, and the tune kicked of Crow's career almost fifteen years ago.

Not only is she comfortable in the presence of music greatness (after all, she dated Eric Clapton) but she can cover a great song and do it justice. She's Keith Richards-approved, and holds her own next to Mick Jagger.

On her own, covering a great song like Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," Crow shows off her great vocal and guitar abilities.

Crow, a vocal Democrat and global warming activist, crossed both musical and political lines to duet with Kid Rock on "Picture," a hit that gave her an entirely new audience.

Nothing tops Crow's sad songs. She shepherded in a generation of female singer-songwriters who had an entirely new vocabulary about love, age, life, career and family. Crow wrote about the difficulties of being a career woman, the fear she may never get married, or have children (though she recently adopted a baby boy named Wyatt). She worried about her life passing her by. This is all personified in "Home."

Crow's strongest trait, ultimately, is not her good looks or charm. It's her songwriting. She can match music to lyrics in a way that those she's often compared to or mentioned with (Alanis Morissette, Jewel, Sarah McLachlan) never could. Her songs are nothing without the emotion she infuses with her writing. Crow showcased this gift on her debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club, and it's final song, "I Shall Believe."

Sheryl Crow has survived questions of her credibility, a slew of sound-alikes, and changes in trends. She's back with a new album, which she's called her most personal, and hopefully it won't disappoint. But even if it does, something tells me she'll be okay.


1 comment:

Jon Gold said...

Mmm, I don't know. Could I have a few more YouTube clips, Meryn?