Sheryl Crow Goes Out With Big Bang On Final Full-Length Studio Album

Threads features collaborations with Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, Stevie Nicks and others from her music bucket list

“Well, I have loved the tradition of making records. I grew up holding the actual physical record and poring over the album notes and just dreaming about doing what I’m doing now. And with technology, it’s a little bit like putting the toothpaste back into the tube. We can’t go back and expect — particularly young people — to listen to albums from top to bottom. It’s almost a dying art form in that people cherry-pick songs and put them on playlists. So, I don’t know that the listening audience really ever gets the sense of the full artistic statement.” (Sheryl Crow)

So this it it for Sheryl Crow? After nine Grammys and more than 50 million albums sold and at less than 60 years of age? Yes and no. The singer-songwriter, who originally hails from Kennett, Mo., is not planning to release any additional full-fledged studio albums. But it should be a consolation to fans that Crow isn’t retiring from recording and touring. What the above Crow told NPR means is the realization that the music business has changed dramatically since she burst on the scene in August 1993 with Tuesday Night Music Club. Back then, selling records still was a rewarding proposition. Today in the age of music streaming not so much.

Sheryl Crow

“We had a great experience last year with Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You,” Crow further explained in that NPR interview, referring to one of the tunes from Threads, which were released ahead of the album that appeared today. “We put out a song that meant something at that moment in the immediacy and didn’t wait for a full length record. And it was kind of liberating to be able to do that. So I think that’s what I’ll aim for. Then, if people want to put together an album, they can do that; they can put together a compilation or their own playlist. But I like the idea of being able to write in the immediate and putting it out when it really matters.”

Sounds like a valid point to me, though I feel the last sentence of Crow’s statement in the first paragraph of the post represents the essence of her decision. In a modern social media-driven, instant gratification culture, most listeners no longer have the attention span to enjoy entire albums. As much as it pains me to admit this, I’m not entirely immune to this mentality either. There’s also the reality that most albums are not like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Tapestry and Aja, to name three of my all-time favorite records, where pretty much every song is a gem you really want. Of course, that has always been the case. In the pre-streaming era, you’d still buy the vinyl record or CD, if it had at least two our three great songs. Today, with iTunes, Spotify, etc. it’s very easy to pick and choose only the tracks you like without ever buying an album.

Okay, let’s get to Threads. Saying Crow’s eleventh studio album features an impressive array of guests would be an understatement. Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Joe Walsh, Emmylou Harris and James Taylor, to name some, are all friends who as NPR put it were “her bucket list collaborators.” With some like Richards, Nicks, Harris and Clapton, Crow had worked before over her 18-year recording career. The catchy opener Prove You Wrong, which was co-written by Crow, Al Andersen and Leslie Satcher and features Stevie Nicks and Maren Morris, is an anthem to strong women. Apple Music in their “liner notes” quotes Crow: “Stevie was one of my first calls. Not only has she been a great friend and collaborator over the years, but she was one of the original inspirations for doing what I do…Inviting Maren in just made sense. She’s sort of like a godchild to Stevie and I – super fierce, loves that connection with her audience, and truly has her own perspective on life.”

Since I already previously covered Live Wire, a nice bluesy track for which Crow teamed up with Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples, I’m going to skip it in this post and move on to Beware Of Darkness. The cover of the George Harrison tune is one of the gems on the album. And, yes, I may be a bit biased here! 🙂 It first appeared on his 1970 solo masterpiece All Things Must Pass. Quite appropriately, one of the guests on Crow’s recording is Harrison’s friend Eric Clapton. The two other artists are Sting and Brandi Carlile. According to the Apple Music liner notes, “…I wanted to record this as a tribute to George, but also as a message to my children: To let them know while they’re living through what we’re going through, they must witness people either moving towards light or towards darkness. I think that explains a lot about why we are where we are…”

Next up: Cross Creek Road, an original tune Crow co-wrote with long-time collaborator Jeff Trott. The called out guests on this recording include Lukas Nelson and Neil Young. Nelson is sharing vocals, while Young contributes acoustic and electric guitars. A closer look also reveals Don Henley as one of the backing vocalists – interesting why he wasn’t called out. In any case, the track is a nice mid-tempo roots-oriented rocker.

Now we come to The Worst. Blame Mick Jagger and Keith Richards for the cheerful title of this tune, which The Rolling Stones recorded for their 1994 studio album Voodoo Lounge. Richards also is a guest in the current version of the country-oriented tune, providing acoustic, electric and nylon-string guitars, bass and piano, as well as some backing vocals. Frankly, I had no idea Richards plays bass and piano! Here’s another enlightening Crow quote from Apple Music: “Not a lot of people know this, but in the late ’80s, I was a school teacher in St. Louis and went to see the taping of [the music documentary] Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll with Chuck Berry and Keith Richards…Cut to 20 years later, I’m recording with Keith Richards, with Steve Jordan producing, so you never now what can happen to a small town girl – a town with three stoplights. It’s amazing what can happen in your life.” Apparently, Crow misspoke, it’s actually 30 years down the road from the above movie.

The next song I’d like to highlight is Still The Good Old Days, which Crow co-wrote with Joe Walsh. He also provides electric slide guitar Walsh kickass style, acoustic guitar and shares vocals. This is a great tune. Here’s the official video, which is also fun to watch.

I’d like to end this review on a quieter note with a beautiful track titled Nobody’s Perfect. Co-written by Crow and Trott, the recording features Emmylou Harris. Gee, the more I hear from this lady, the more I realize I should check her out more closely. “It’s such a joy to sing with her, and she, for me, is my great hope with my career,” Crow told NPR. “I look at what she’s done and who she has constantly been and who she’s become — how she’s still curious, still growing, still rocking, still out there fighting for the things she believes in and still looks like herself and is just beautiful. For me to get to sing with her and to have our voices blend is, I mean, that’s my kind of high.” Harris is 72, while Crow turned 57 this February.

Reflecting on her last studio album overall, Crow in a statement on her website said, “I became inspired to record an album of musical experiences with the legacy artists who inspired me to want to be a great songwriter, musician, and producer. It is a celebration with them, and a tribute to them. Just as importantly, I wanted to work with younger artists on this record, who I believe will pick up the torch and continue to light the way for humanity with their stories and their songs for many years to come. Their music inspires me every day.” I would say, if you officially declare an album is your final full-length record, Threads is a great way to go out with a big bang.

Sources: Wikipedia, NPR, Apple Music, Sheryl Crow website, YouTube

8 thoughts on “Sheryl Crow Goes Out With Big Bang On Final Full-Length Studio Album”

  1. Das ist alles schön und natürlich handwerklich gut gemacht und produziert. Aufregend ist das nicht, aber eben grundsolide. Man muss wirklich ein grosses Faible für amerikanischen Mainstream haben, ansonsten wird man mit diesem Hochglanzprodukt wahrscheinlich nicht so richtig glücklich.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sheryl Crow ist zweifelos amerikanischer Mainstream, da gebe ich Dir Recht. Und ist es auch immer gewesen. Darueberhinaus entspricht sie wohl dem Schoenheitsbild der meisten Amerikaner, was ihr sicherlich nicht geschadet hat. Dies ist nicht sexistisch gemeint. Es ist einfach die Realitaet.

      Aber Crow ist meiner Meinung nach bedeutend mehr als eine attraktive Blondine mit einer guten Stimme. Die vielen hochkaraetigen Gaeste auf dieser Platte sind bereits ein Indiz dafuer.

      Crow ist nicht nur eine “echte” Musikerin, sondern hat ueber all die Jahre immer wieder bewiesen, dass sie auch selber gute Stuecke schreiben kann. Und dass ihre Texte durchaus auch tiefgehender sein koennen als “all I wanna do is have some fun.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmm. Much to unpack here. I’ve always dug Crow. Not in the way a man digs a woman, but musically. (Ok, truth to be told, that way too!). Saw her open for the Stones some years back and she was on fire. I didn’t listen to everything here but from what I hear it sounds like she’s going back to her country roots. I have to say that while I don’t dislike her version of “Darkness,” I can’t get George’s voice out of my head on that one with his Scouse accent. And yes, Clapton was George’s friend but he was also Sheryl’s friend with benefits. Can you imagine idolizing someone, some celebrity and then being with them later? There’s hope for me and Nicole Kidman yet. Hang in there, Nicole! 🙂

    She’s right about albums. I mean, I guess people still buy them but what’s the point? BTW, who the hell is Maren Morris? Interestingly, I never heard of Lukas Nelson till yesterday. Willie Nelson’s kid, big Neil Young fan and plays with him if I understand correctly. There was a big article in the Globe about his band as they are opening for Zac Brown who has quite the following in this area.

    Anyway, this album sounds like it’s worth a listen. I’ll spend more time with in the coming days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s a nice final full-fledged studio album by Crow. BTW, does you wife read your blog? 🙂

      And, yes, as much as it pains me to admit it, I agree with Crow that albums simply no longer reflect the listening habits of most folks these days. Even I who pride myself for listening to albums including vinyl records oftentimes find I lack the patience to go from the first track to the last.

      I recall reading somewhere (I believe it was last year) that Stevie Nicks bluntly said making an album is no longer worth all the time and effort, and that touring is much more lucrative. I was taken aback by her statement, but I guess she made a fair point.

      Like

      1. Yes, but she doesn’t read yours! 🙂 That said, I seem to remember a certain German blogger who admitted to fondness for Bonnie Raitt that might be, shall we say, not entirely musical. 🙂

        I find that if I listen to albums it’s the older ones from “back in the day.” If anybody today is putting out albums in any genre that I dig, I certainly want to know about it.

        Liked by 1 person

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