For me, Sheryl Crow seemed everywhere in the 1990s. Poppy enough for Top 40 but “rock” enough for some other stations – especially later – in my memory it feels like there was always a Sheryl Crow song playing on the radio when I was in high school. I didn’t pay much attention, mind you, but in retrospect, it feels like there was. And a quick look at her first greatest hits record and I know many if not most of the songs.
But I didn’t listen to contemporary music in high school and, later on, her sound was just too middle of the road for me to pay much attention. So this is the first album of hers I’ve ever bothered with – whereas there are a few other prominent female singer songwriters of her vintage whom I’ve listened to and in some cases come to love, but who I utterly ignored as a teen.
The biggest surprise to me is the literacy of these lyrics, something I was really not expecting. These lyrics are, well, high brow. And I was kind of floored by that initially. Until I thought more about how this album was written. If you don’t know – or if the title didn’t reveal it – the album was written by a collective. (In fact, as you might imagine, there have been a lot of disputes over the years about how the credits were divided up, as well as the degree to which Crow has taken credit for the record.) And so, without listening to another Sheryl Crow record, it’s hard to really ascribe these highly literate lyrics to Crow herself. It certainly sounds like she didn’t write all of them by any means. It seems like it was more like when there are 5 or 6 authors of a screenplay, only this time the results were mostly good. (That does happen occasionally in film, I guess.)
But it’s hard to get excited about a singer-songwriter when you know or suspect that her lyrics are partially or mostly not her own. And the music doesn’t do much for me – it’s so safely mainstream that it won’t offend anyone.
If anything, this record makes me slightly curious as to what Sheryl Crow sounds like on record after this group broke up, rather than making me want to listen to other records of hers because I think this is good. So that’s weird.
Anyway, aside from the lyrics, there’s not much here for me. Everything is very, very competent though.