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Crow CD develops new sound

Oct. 18, 2005

by AARON TURNEY, contributor

Sheryl Crow has shown her ability to stay relevant over the course of a 12-year career.

The popular music scene has undergone shifts from grunge to alterna-lite to Britney and Christina to rap-rock to new wave revival during the last decade. During that time, there have been artists that have changed their distinct sound to the flavor of the week, those who have kept to their guns and paid for it, and those who adapt and evolve their own sound.

Sheryl Crow's latest record, Wildflower, doesn't rehash the bubbly beach pop of 2002's C'mon, C'mon.

Crow understood that her audience may have enjoyed that side of her music, but she chose to write a record that contains some songs with an introspective mood.

Although the record is dedicated to her fiancee, seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, the record does not focus on their relationship.

On "I Don't Wanna Know," she sings about the uncertainty of the future and the loss of control in a relationship.

Lyrics such as "I pushed a button just to find my way/I got directions/But I'm still lost today" are not what you would expect from a woman in a very public romance.

Crow's recordings in the past are usually more traditional with guitars carrying the majority of the instrumentation. On Wildflower, she used orchestration liberally.

"Live It Up," the track that would most easily fit on C'mon, C'mon, is the only track that lacks a string section.

The image that Crow portrayed when Tuesday Night Music Club was released in the summer of 1993 was that of a rock 'n' roll girl.

Dressed in a jean jacket on the cover, she wanted to shed her image of the backup singer on Michael Jackson's "Bad" tour.

Her new image, dressed in trendier clothing and windblown hair, is much more of a pop styling, but so is the music.

Tuesday Night Music Club sold more than seven million copies, and Crow won multiple Grammys thanks in part to the hit song "All I Wanna Do."

She continued to top the charts with "If It Makes You Happy" and "Everyday Is a Winding Road."

The only song on Wildflower that could begin to offer that kind of success is "Live It Up," which does not characterize the intimate feeling this album tries to create.

It feels out of place, like someone wearing clothes at a nudist beach.

Will Sheryl Crow continue to try new things and risk acceptance, or revert to the pure pop that will sell records?

She is taking strides in the right direction on Wildflower. Audiences reward courage.