Release Date: Apr 21, 2017
Record label: Warner Bros.
The Upshot: Emotional, frequently upbeat, and a rich portrayal of an artist's interior life. BY TIFFINI TAYLOR Sheryl Crow is back. The nine-time Grammy award-winning artist is releasing Be Myself and it is going to be an album that will be played throughout the years to come. The songs are passionate, the type that everyone will be able to relate in one way or another to each one.
Sheryl Crow's country makeover Feels Like Home didn't click commercially in 2013, so she decided to radically shift directions for this 2017 successor, Be Myself. The title alone is a tacit admission that she's returning to her roots, reuniting with producers Jeff Trott and Tchad Blake, the pair who helmed 1996's Sheryl Crow and 1998's The Globe Sessions. Crow last worked with Trott on 2002's C'mon, C'mon, and Be Myself deliberately mirrors that album's sunny vibe while also nodding at specific songs from Crow's past.
Sheryl Crow's Tuesday Night Music Club came out nearly 24 years ago and started a recording career that has explored many styles, from rock to pop and country. For Be Myself, her ninth album she reunited with producer Jeff Trott to write and record a collection of songs that recaptured the spirit of that debut and the career it generated in the mid-‘90s. The effort is largely successful, and the reunion with Trott and editing and mixing by Tchad Blake (another return after nearly two decades, too) capture the feel of her early records.
It's tempting to interpret the title of Sheryl Crow's 10th album, Be Myself, as a declarative statement, suggesting a return to form after a series of forays into holiday music, Southern soul, and country. The album doesn't just reprise the roots-rock pop of Crow's early releases, reuniting the singer-songwriter with longtime collaborator Jeff Trott, but it also puts engineer Tchad Blake back on the mixing board for the first time since 1998's The Globe Sessions. The title track itself, however, conveys something entirely less rhetorical.
Every day is a winding road, and no one knows that better than Sheryl Crow. After a few diversions into Memphis soul and modified country, along with personal upheavals both good (adopting two sons, beating cancer) and otherwise (what seems to be a recent nasty breakup), Crow is back to what she does best; cranking out melodic and emotionally vivid folk/pop/rock. Her debut for Warner Brothers (Crow's previous release was on Warner Country) is a generally gloomier set, at least lyrically.
Everyday existence proves to be a rich resource for Be Myself's lyrical themes. Mocking our fast-paced technological age, Roller Skate demands 'I want a little face-to-face' while Woo Woo complains that 'every time I go on Twitter, someone's butt is in my face'. Heartbreak Away is a fantastically unique depiction of espionage with chilling pre-election undertones.
A fter a short-lived dabble in country music, Be Myself reunites Sheryl Crow with 1990s collaborators Jeff Trott and Tchad Blake and returns to the sassy, carefree, stripped down folk-pop-rock that brought her massive success in that era. However, at 55 and with a cancer scare behind her, Crow has, as she herself says: "Seen more of this life than most have seen and it's taken it's toll on me." The subject matter here is darker than on her early albums, but the songs see her "getting back in the ring" to battle everything from a kiss-and-teller to depression. There's pithy humour, too, in songs which address Twitter "butts", selfies, indie bands with fake followers, Trump and ill-fitting high heels.
After her surprisingly strong country detour on 2013's Feels Like Home, Sheryl Crow is back to her old wheelhouse -- namely, sunny-yet-wounded roots pop that manages to deliver radio-friendly earworms with a charming sense of grit and candour. For Be Myself, her ninth solo album (and first for Warner), Crow has reunited with '90s collaborators Jeff Trott and Tchad Blake (mixing) to try to channel the vibe of her eponymous 1996 sophomore album and 1998's The Globe Sessions, this time working out of her own home barn/studio/saloon just outside of Nashville. Crow both succeeds and fails; it succeeds because her songs are as catchy and genuine-feeling as ever, but fails partly because Be Myself is just too glossy.