I haven’t listened to a new Sheryl Crow album since 2008, and I haven’t loved a Sheryl Crow album since 2002’s “C’mon C’mon.”
I may have ditched Coldplay for Tame Impala, or The All-American Rejects for Car Seat Headrest, but there’s a strange fascination I have with that dusty old album from 2002 that used to rattle around in our family car’s glove box. I can picture our copy now – the plastic on the case is cracked like an unstable frozen lake, and the disc looks like a cat sharpened its claws on it.
Sure, it’s a little corny (and some of the lyrics leave much to be desired) but I can’t help it – I love that darn album. At a very young age, I moved away from my family in California to the rainy grayscale of London, England. This album reminded me of summer, and served as a neural link to a world that I couldn’t really remember anymore. Richard Linklater used “Soak Up The Sun” in his 2014 film “Boyhood” for good reason – it’s tremendously emblematic of an era. When I saw the film in theaters, I was one of several people who started shifting rhythmically in their seat once the opening drumbeat kicked in.
As far as this album goes, I have a few succinct thoughts. It’s not as good as “C’mon C’mon,” but since my critical opinion of that album is incredibly tied into my personal opinions, I don’t see how it could have been. This album marks a return to punchy pop for Sheryl Crow, and it’s an enjoyable yet entirely forgettable listen. The hooks are occasionally sharp and it’s decently produced (although occasionally muddled), but the lyrics add about as much to the overall argument against internet superficiality as the average 4chan commenter. Sheryl rages against the media machine in a way that isn’t exactly screaming with nuance.
However, there are some nice little musical touches on this album, specifically in the song “Strangers Again,” where a fairly standard pop song gives way to a lovely psychedelic warbling tone that sounds like a guitar sound going through a washing machine. Her voice remains unique throughout, and it’s remarkable how little her vocals seem to have changed. They’re not the most entertaining in the world, but they’re more than enough to convey the musical shifts in the various songs.
All in all, this is a completely average album that I feel a strange fondness for. It’s emblematic of a time in my life where the only music I knew was the stuff that was on my parent’s iTunes and in our car. Sheryl Crow was, to me, a gateway drug for the sunny harmonies and roots rock of the 60’s. It doesn’t serve the same purpose now, but I don’t suppose that matters. I owe you one, Sheryl Crow.