Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow

A & M Records, 1996

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


[Adapted from a review that originally appeared in On The Town Magazine on October 29, 1996]

"Hello, it's me, I'm not at home, if you'd like to reach me, leave me alone." Success sure isn't what it used to be (if it ever was), and it's apparently put Sheryl Crow in no mood to deal with any crap from anyone. One look at the dark and sulky images featured on this CD's packaging and I was halfway to writing this album off as just another too-high-too-fast-celebrity-angst waste of time.

Then I listened to it. My advice now is simple: ignore the cover. This is a terrific piece of work.

Crow is among the most talented of the early '90s crop of female rock and roll singer-songwriters, outdoing Melissa Etheridge in versatility, Alanis Morrisette in accessibility and Tori Amos in acting like she's actually from this planet. On this disc -- which almost had to be self-titled -- she firmly establishes her own musical identity, stepping away from the controversies that dogged her debut disc my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Tuesday Night Music Club and taking a giant leap forward as an artist. Character-driven songs like "A Change," "Sweet Rosalyn," "Oh, Marie" and "Ordinary Morning" show a gift for evocative storytelling. Just as importantly, these songs rock in firm, steady grooves that drive harder numbers like "Love Is A Good Thing" along, while also anchoring quieter tunes like the breathy, contemplative "Home." The message is clear: there is a lot more to Sheryl Crow than "All I Wanna Do."

On the down side, I do find The Big Single off this album fairly grating, its alternating raging and plaintive chorus ("if it makes you happy, it can't be that bad") offering up a potential co-dependents' national anthem. (Hey, if smoking ten joints and slugging down a quart of vodka every day makes you happy, it can't be that bad, right? Just ask Jim Morrison...) But such complaints are more than compensated for by irresistably infectious grooves like "Every Day Is A Winding Road."

The big story is how fully realized Crow's musical vision is on this album (she produced it herself, with support from engineer Tchad Blake and consultant Mitchell Froom, and wrote or co-wrote every song). The instrumentation is mostly straight out of '68-'72 funk-pop, full of fuzzed-out White Album electric guitars, corner music store Hammond organs and wurlitzers, tambourine and acoustic rhythm guitar. The only real updates are some nice production touches like the loop that anchors "Maybe Angels" and the trembly guitar on "A Change." Sound-wise, Crow could have played Woodstock and fit right in, even if she might have startled a few folks with her decidedly modern combination of fierce independence and melancholy vulnerability. It's '60s music with a decidedly '90s sensibility, and in Sheryl Crow's hands, it works.

Rating: A-

User Rating: B



© 2005 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of A & M Records, and is used for informational purposes only.