“Feels Like Home”
Producers: Sheryl Crow, Justin Niebank
Release Date: Sept. 10
After over two decades of making records, Sheryl Crow enters into a new phase of her recording career with the Warner release of “Feels Like Home.” Her decision to release an all-country project might surprise some, but a closer look at her music suggests that the genre has always been close to her heart. On her 1993 “Tuesday Night Music Club” album, the closing cut “No One Said It Would Be Easy” had a country influence, as have many of her works over the years — including “Picture” with Kid Rock, and appearances on tribute records to Loretta Lynn and Johnny Cash.
Does she shine in her country debut? Check out our track-by-track breakdown of Sheryl Crow’s new album.
1. “Shotgun” – She may be changing direction, but that swagger is still intact. Inspired by a phrase her dad once told her – “Drive It Like It’s Stolen, and Park It Like It’s Rented,” Crow kicks off this set with a cut that showcases the “bad ass” side of the singer in the same vein as such classic fare as “Steve McQueen.” It sets the mood brilliantly.
2. “Easy” – Country radio has made this one of the highlights of the spring and summer months, as it sounds like a heavy dose of liquid sunshine. Not really a lot of pretense here, just a reminder that a romantic getaway can be wherever the heart is – even if it’s no further than your own back yard.
3. “Give It to Me” – Crow credits some of the classic Emmylou Harris / Gram Parsons collaborations as being her influence here, and you can definitely hear that dramatic flair. At the same time – at least to this set of ears – you can hear somewhat of a 50s vibe to it. Making this cut all the more special are the harmonies from Vince Gill and Ashley Monroe.
4. “Drinking” – Having made no secret of her love of the 60s sounds of Bobbie Gentry, this cut definitely has that Mississippi backwoods vibe to it, and the lyrics are irreverent but yet to the point. As the saying goes, “It is what it is.”
5. “Callin’ Me When I’m Lonely” – One of two cuts that Crow didn’t have a hand in co-writing on the disc, this has a definite contemporary sheen to it that she seems to really eschew. This has the term “radio single” written all over it.
6. “Waterproof Mascara” – It goes without saying that there will be a few doubters about Crow as a country artist. To those, I suggest they hear this song – and their opinion will change. The lyrics and performance are heartfelt and personal, as you know she has lived each of these lines. Justin Niebank’s production brings to mind the classic 70s sound of a Billy Sherrill / Tammy Wynette production. Adding to the classic feel of the song is the Tic Tac bass of Country Music Hall of Fame musician Harold Bradley. This is not just the performance of the album – but quite possibly a career performance, as well.
7. “Crazy Ain’t Original” – Crow wrote this after being inspired by Merle Haggard following the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony where he was honored in 2010. You can hear that influence, but also that of Waylon Jennings — especially on the humorous-yet-true lyrics that are a bit of social commentary. If nothing else, the song will make you think about current events in a new light.
8. “Nobody’s Business” – Cool groove proves that there’s still a little bit of a blues / rock to the singer, as this track about what goes on behind closed doors features some dynamic guitar work from Richard Bennett and Audley Freed.
9. “Homesick” – Co-written with Chris Stapleton, this song is one of the more bittersweet performances on the record. Crow is returning home from a long run on the road – only to realize that there’s nobody there. The question of where and what “home” actually means becomes the theme of the track, which features Zac Brown on harmony.
10. “Homecoming Queen” – Another song that is a throwback to a bygone era, this one has that dramatic sound of the 60s and 70s to it, as well. Lyrically, it’s a poignant look at how much things can change in a person’s life in ten years. Next to “Waterproof Mascara,” this might very well be her best vocal performance on the album.
11. “Best Of Times” – Written with Al Anderson and Leslie Satcher, this song is maybe the deepest socio-political statement on the album. The irony of the lyrics might make you giggle at first – before you realize just how true they might be.
12. “Stay At Home Mother” – On an artistic and personal level, life causes an evolution of sorts. Just like with ‘Mascara,’ Crow might not have been able to pull this one off fifteen years ago. Vocally, she would have had no problem – but making the track believable would have been the trick. There’s an old adage that states “You’ve got to have lived it to sing it,” and these lyrics aren’t just words. You get the idea she has walked in these shoes a few times.