Ten years after Tuesday Night Music Club introduced the public on both sides of the Atlantic to a new singer / songwriter / all-round musician by way of All I Wanna Do, here comes The Very Best Of Sheryl Crow. Wisely, it’s not titled, “Greatest Hits,” since although there is real quality here, hits have generally proved elusive for Ms Crow.
Somewhat predictably, the album starts with her breakthrough hit, which has the classic line, “I like a good beer buzz, early in the morning,” a line all the more surprising as Sheryl comes across as a diminutive, clean living, all-American country girl. Perhaps she is trying to rebel through her lyrics, though, as If It Makes You Happy also has the line, “Well ok, I still get stoned. I’m not the kind of girl you’d take home.”
We are then brought right up to date with Soak Up The Sun, which had extensive airplay on MTV over the summer of 2003. This is one of the most upbeat and hence commercial pop songs of Sheryl’s “best”, but doesn’t appear to be part of a Madonna-type change of style.
Other recent tracks include Picture, a song by Kid Rock which has a strong country feel and leaves disturbing images of a Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton duet. There is also a collaboration with The Corrs – C’mon C’mon – that continues the acoustic, country theme, including The Corrs’ ubiquitous violins.
The cover picture is a further indication that Sheryl Crow is not after the teen pop market. Written in “how the west was won” lettering, with Sheryl in a beige jumper sat with her guitar, it drawls country, folk and musicianship, all of which the album delivers in spades.
The lyrics of Sheryl’s “very best” show up two recurring themes. Firstly, relationships with the wrong kind of man, who Sheryl is pleading for something, anything, to believe in him for. My Favourite Mistake, I Shall Believe and C’mon C’mon’s “break my heart again” are classic examples. The other main theme shows a glimpse of Sheryl’s life philosophy – being free to do what you want. All I Wanna Do “is have a little fun”, If It Makes You Happy “it can’t be that bad” and Let’s Get Free show this has been a perennial for Sheryl over the last 10 years.
The album presents a good mix of songs from the last decade, easily demonstrating Sheryl’s talents and even hanging together well as an album in its own right. The only real Achilles’ Heel is her attempt at The First Cut Is The Deepest, where her voice, though pleasant enough, is just no match for anyone who has heard the P P Arnold version.
Nevertheless, for folky, acoustic guitar-based songs that verge on modern country (but thankfully a million miles from Shania Twain ), this album shows that Sheryl Crow has the genre all sewn up.