Trends, be damned! Crow closes a four-year gap between recordings with a set that bravely (and wisely) leaves the tail-chasing and kiddie-baiting to others.

Trends, be damned! Crow closes a four-year gap between recordings with a set that bravely (and wisely) leaves the tail-chasing and kiddie-baiting to others. Instead, she offers a masterfully crafted collection that warmly recalls the era of album-driven FM rock radio. Although Crow surrounds herself with an army of glittery guests (including Lenny Kravitz, Stevie Nicks, and Don Henley), she never loses control of the proceedings—nor does she play her fab friends like bells and whistles. Rather, they quietly enhance the tune at hand. And Crow proves here that her skills as a songwriter have matured quite nicely. On rockers like the single-worthy "Steve McQueen," she's assured and aggressive without becoming unnecessarily caustic, while gentle moments like "Safe & Sound" are sensitive without being overly sentimental. A most welcome return from one of rock's most valuable players.—LF

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