Sheryl Crow Feels Like Home

Sheryl CrowFeels Like Home
There's never been any question about Sheryl Crow's abilities as a singer/songwriter. But what's often overlooked is her savvy knowledge of who her audience is. Her early work was catchy enough to top the pop charts, but still had enough edge and sexiness to be a guilty pleasure for alt-country snobs — it's hard to argue against the near-perfect execution of "If It Makes You Happy." Those fans have aged, along with Crow, who should also be given props for surviving both breast cancer and a disastrous relationship with Lance Armstrong. The image of country music has changed a great deal as well, and while it's easy to say that Feels Like Home is Crow selling out to the new Nashville, even a cursory listen suggests the opposite: that Nashville has conformed to what Crow was doing all along. While hints of fiddle and pedal steel are evident, the foundation of most of the songs is gutsy barroom rock — the natural environment for Crow's golden pipes. She does display a more pronounced twang on "Crazy Ain't Original" and "We Oughtta Be Drinkin'," but it's hardly an affectation — at least compared to one-time duet partner Kid Rock. What Crow conveys on "Callin' Me When I'm Lonely" and especially "Waterproof Mascara" is genuine modern heartbreak. Yes, on the surface Feels Like Home is a makeover aimed at the parents of every Taylor Swift fan, but the essence of Crow's sound remains intact, and irresistible. (Warner)