Sheryl Crow has never been shy about her political leanings. But as a songwriter who also focuses on affairs of the heart, she’s tasked with figuring out what it all means in her spirit and her mind. From the sounds of it, the veteran singer/songwriter will be giving fans plenty of both on her upcoming ninth studio album, Be Myself.
Speaking to Rolling Stone, Crow said she’s taking a turn away from the country roots she explored on 2013’s Feels Like Home, reconnecting with her pop sensibilities, and early producers Jeff Trott and Tchad Blake, responsible for such hits as “Everyday is a Winding Road” and “My Favorite Mistake.” Slated for release in March or April, Crow said the album was her attempt to “get back to how I got started on my second record and third record,” referring to her 1996 self-titled effort (“Home,” “A Change Would Do You Good,” “If It Makes You Happy”) and 1998’s The Globe Sessions (“There Goes the Neighborhood,” “Anything But Down”).
“I wanted to revisit that sound and that feeling,” she said of those albums created with help from Trott and Blake. “It was a complete blast, and the most effortless thing I’ve ever done.” Trott has been a staple throughout Crow’s career, but she said veteran producer Blake (Elvis Costello, Pearl Jam, Los Lobos) was a key to bringing the project to life. “I thought in a million years he wouldn’t come over, because he lives in Wales and I haven’t seen him in 15 years,” she said. “But I emailed him and he said, ‘When do you want me there?’ He flew over and stayed with me in an apartment over my garage.”
Over a three week stint in September and October the trio worked up 17 songs, completing the album before Republican Donald Trump sealed his presidential election victory, a foreboding event that weaves through the lyrics. “Fear is definitely present in the songs,” she said. “I think the election really incited a feeling of us against them, and a feeling of trying to get back to reason, so thematically there’s a lot of that on the record.”
Among the standouts are “Heartbeat Away,” an espionage track about “a guy who is burying his money off the coast of the Cayman Islands and Russia is hacking” — which she wrote before the revelation of Russian meddling related to the American election — as well as the potential first single, “Halfway There,” which focuses on divisions in America. “I’m a liberal, which I think most people know,” she said. “And I’ve seen Nashville change a lot in the past 10 years that I’ve been here. The idea of the song is that even though you may drive a big Chevy truck and I drive my hybrid, or you may wear designer clothes and I wear ripped jeans, that doesn’t mean we don’t want the same things in life, and the same things for our kids in the future.”
Crow will definitely hit the road for a major tour in support of the album — possibly as part of an “Outlaws”-style bill, with Neil Young and Willie Nelson — and she’s also working on a separate star-studded album project, featuring Stevie Nicks, Nelson, Vince Gill, Don Henley, Kris Kristofferson and others, that she hopes to have out by year’s end.
Click here to read the full Rolling Stone interview.