Sheryl Crow

Be Myself

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Sheryl Crow's country makeover Feels Like Home didn't click commercially in 2013, so she decided to radically shift directions for this 2017 successor, Be Myself. The title alone is a tacit admission that she's returning to her roots, reuniting with producers Jeff Trott and Tchad Blake, the pair who helmed 1996's Sheryl Crow and 1998's The Globe Sessions. Crow last worked with Trott on 2002's C'mon, C'mon, and Be Myself deliberately mirrors that album's sunny vibe while also nodding at specific songs from Crow's past. "Roller Skate" grooves to a beat that echoes "All I Want to Do" and "Strangers Again" struts like "If It Makes You Happy" -- sly winks that acknowledge Crow is happy to embrace her past. Perhaps this retro move would seem desperate if Crow didn't seem so enthusiastic reviving this collaboration. With Trott and Blake in tow, she's happy to embrace her eccentricity in addition to her fondness for big pop hooks -- a combination that fuels Be Myself as surely as it did Sheryl Crow or The Globe Sessions. Compared to those two '90s records, this 2017 album isn't quite as daring -- a revival is by definition a safe bet, plus Crow's long since reined in her purple prose -- but one of the charms of Be Myself is what lies along the fringe. Most of the record's 11 songs are graced by provocative sounds lurking at the margins of the mix -- something that sounds like a music box on "Halfway There," a saloon piano on "Rest of Me," all the compressed guitars as percussion -- that help elevate this set of strong, sophisticated pop into something special.

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