It’s been some 26 years since Sheryl Crow dominated the early ’90s with her runaway smash hit folk-rock country-lite extravaganza Tuesday Night Music Club. There have since been nine albums all treading different sonic paths and showcasing her versatility and authenticity as an artist. Threads will seemingly be Crow’s 11th and final studio album proper and features collaborations and duets certainly fit for a fantastic swansong with Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, James Taylor and Vince Gill among the many buckling up for the ride.
Known for her canny political lyrics and heartfelt activism, Crow lambasts politics, gun violence and greed to fine effect here. Story of Everything is a gorgeous funk soulscape featuring the brilliant Chuck D, the wonderful Andra Day and Gary Clark Jr. on guitar and wanders through the state of America right now from racial issues to politicians to social care. The candescent line “Our do-nothing congress, they never make mistakes, ’cause they don’t show up to work, except to give themselves a raise!” could not resonate more. Similarly Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You is a shimmer of a rock-out diatribe condemning capitalist greed and corruption featuring the magnificent St Vincent. The beautiful and powerful Redemption Day is stripped back and features vocals from Johnny Cash, as he recorded a version for his album American VI: Ain’t No Grave. The song begins as sparse and affecting as Madonna‘s Promise To Try and the haunting harmonies render the song all the more potent; the last piano stroke feels like a death knell for all of us.
The album’s highlight is the blindsiding Don’t with indie outfit Lucius. This retro, and almost Bacharachian, slice of powerful orchestral pop seemingly comes out of nowhere and will raise many an arm hair. This is pure sonic mescaline.