Sheryl Crow Return to Nineties Pop-Rock Basics on ‘Evolution’


The beloved singer-songwriter comes out of retirement for a return to Bill Clinton-era pop-rock basics.

When we last left Sheryl Crow, five years ago, she’d essentially retired from making albums. With its all-star cast, from Willie Nelson and Neil Young through St. Vincent and Jason Isbell, her 2019 LP Threads truly felt like a retirement party attended by all her musician pals; all that was missing was a gold watch. But like many before her, Crow couldn’t cure herself of the music-making bug, and out of record retirement she’s come with Evolution.

It would be easy to be cynical about it, but Crow’s return has an added bonus. Ditching the occasionally somber tone of some of her later records, she seems to have rediscovered the glories of a classic Sheryl Crow record. Working with producer Mike Elizondo as well as longtime collaborators like Bill Bottrell and Jeff Trott, she’s tapped back into what lured us into her music three decades ago: shamelessly big-hooky records that sound terrific blasting from a car stereo and remind you that only the likes of Tom Petty could match her in that regard.

You can hear it in “Do It Again,” where she giddily blows off self-help gurus, or the romping “Alarm Clock,” where all she wants to do is have some fun by staying in bed and having dreams of being served by a waiter who resembles Timothée Chalamet. From its strumming intro to its power-charged chorus, “You Can’t Change the Weather” pushes all the Crow buttons. With its allusions to couples therapy and piano-and-strings arrangement, “Don’t Walk Away” could have been beyond soppy. Instead, it’s a moving performance that reveals what Crow surely learned from her singer-songwriter predecessors: If you want to speak to anyone listening, make sure your voice is clear and up close, shorn of audio gauze.

Trending

Crow may have had other motivations for making records again. On the title song, she grouses about AI, and “Broken Record,” which rhymes “trending” and “unfriending” for probably the first time in a pop song, may be the pissiest song she’s ever made. But she wraps up her return—a ten-song record that doesn’t overstay its welcome—with “Waiting in the Wings.” It’s the kind of mid-tempo, lean-on-me song that would be beyond cornball in anyone else’s hands. But Crow is determined to elevate the depressed friend or lover she’s addressing. By the time it’s over, you’ll be pretty uplifted too.



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