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Sheryl Crow

'Flowers' Bloom

Crow"Now that I'm in my 40s, it's much easier to be an artist," Sheryl Crow says. "It's good knowing that I'm not in the game to be competing with really young groups of kids on the radio. Or to, you know, make 'beat' music."

Filling the three-year gap since her last studio effort, she took time off and headed to Spain, to write and to determine her next move. The result: the introspective "Wildflower" (due this week via A&M/Interscope) and leadoff single "Good Is Good," which is No. 11 on the Billboard Adult Top 40 chart.

Crow's recent engagement to superstar cyclist Lance Armstrong is sure to keep consumers interested. The public romance between the two has increased her visibility and, according to Crow, has also provided fodder for her songwriting. Much of "Wildflower" addresses their romance with happy tones and cautious detail, without flaunting publicly what they wish to keep private.

"I try not to edit myself too much, but I don't want to worry about what people will think of me if I leave everything in," she says. "Some people rely on selling everything based on celebrity. He and I are really careful about how we conduct our lives and what we let people be privy to."