THE GRADE B+
BOTTOM LINE Finding comfort in balancing her successful past and current events
Remember Sheryl Crow when all she wanted to do was have some fun?
That’s the version of the singer-songwriter that comes shining through on her latest album, “Be Myself” (Warner Bros.). You can practically hear the weight lifted off her shoulders as she sashays her way through “Woo Woo,” her clever twist on Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.” “Sexy ain’t a word only a few girls own,” Crow says, skipping through talk of belfies and Nicki Minaj wannabes.
That’s not to say her recent albums — the soul-tinged “100 Miles from Memphis” and the country-leaning “Feels Like Home” — were heavy, but there’s a comfort that feels infused into all of the songs on “Be Yourself.” Maybe it’s the familiarity of working again with her late-’90s crew, co-producer Jeff Trott and engineer Tchad Blake. Or maybe it’s that Crow, now 55, feels more comfortable with who she is and where she’s heading.
The activism of her underappreciated “Detours” album is still on display here, but it’s become more integrated into her big-picture lyrics. On the first single, “Halfway There,” she’s looking to foster a dialogue between liberals and conservatives, over a strutting soul groove that does its best to unify. She does turn up the political heat on “Heartbeat Away,” a raging Rolling Stones-y rocker that Crow says was written before the election, even though it includes lines like “You bet the president is sweating, while Russia’s blowing up the phone.”
Crow balances that seriousness with the lighthearted “Grow Up,” where she promises “Love is everywhere if you even care to see” in a Prince-ly bridge, before declaring, “I don’t ever want to grow up” in the chorus.
“Be Yourself” manages to sound carefree and timeless, while still remaining current sonically and lyrically. In other words, it sounds exactly like Crow.
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