Sheryl Crow (album)

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Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Crow, album.png
Studio album by Sheryl Crow
Released September 24, 1996
Recorded Kingsway Studio in New Orleans, Louisiana and The Sound Factory and Sunset Sound in Los Angeles
Genre Rock, country rock, folk rock
Length 56:28
Label A&M
Producer Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Crow chronology
Tuesday Night Music Club
(1993)
Sheryl Crow
(1996)
The Globe Sessions
(1998)
Singles from Sheryl Crow
  1. "If It Makes You Happy"
    Released: September 20, 1996
  2. "Everyday Is a Winding Road"
    Released: November 8, 1996
  3. "Hard to Make a Stand"
    Released: 1997
  4. "A Change Would Do You Good"
    Released: July 1997
  5. "Home"
    Released: 1997–1998

Sheryl Crow is the second studio album by the American singer Sheryl Crow, released on September 24, 1996 in the by A&M Records. The album received very positive reviews from critics and was awarded Best Rock Album at the 39th Annual Grammy Awards.

Background and recording[edit]

Sheryl Crow is the follow-up to Sheryl Crow's 1993 album Tuesday Night Music Club, which was written by a group of musicians known as the "Tuesday Music Club".[1] The group existed as a casual collective formed by Crow and musicians Bill Bottrell, David Baerwald, Kevin Gilbert, Brian MacLeod, David Ricketts, and Dan Schwartz.[2] The album was a commercial success and produced several hit singles, including "All I Wanna Do", "Strong Enough", and "Leaving Las Vegas".[2] It was certified 7× Platinum in the United States and 2× Platinum in the United Kingdom.[3][4] Crow was also awarded Best New Artist, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and Record of the Year at the 37th Annual Grammy Awards.[5]

Inevitably, tensions between Crow and the remaining members of the group began to arise, especially when Crow was asked on Late Show with David Letterman in March 1994 if the song "Leaving Las Vegas" was autobiographical, for which she offhandedly agreed even though it was actually written by Baerwald and based on the book by his friend John O'Brien.[1] As a result, several members of the Tuesday Music Club group felt betrayed, and O'Brien himself committed suicide not long after.[1] Nevertheless, O'Brien's parents insisted that Crow had nothing to do with the tragedy, noting that he "was just mad about it [...] But the problems that drove him toward the end were – you know, that's a long, long bloody trip."[1]

After Tuesday Night Music Club, Crow wanted to prove her authority as a musician.[2] According to her, "My only objective on this record was to get under people's skin, because I was feeling like I had so much shit to hurl at the tape."[1] Work on the new album began at Toad Hall in Pasadena, California, the same studio where Tuesday Night Music Club was recorded, but sessions were soon relocated to New Orleans, Louisiana because Crow "was feeling ghosts in that room".[1] Bottrell was designated to produce the record and co-wrote three songs that would appear on the album, but eventually left because he could not sort out his differences with Crow.[2][1] As a result, Crow took over production duties and wrote most of the songs alone or with only one collaborator.[6] She also played most of the instruments on the album, including bass and guitar work and nearly all the keyboard parts.[7] Although most of the album was recorded at Kingsway Studio in New Orleans, Crow returned to California where she could finish it at The Sound Factory and Sunset Sound in Los Angeles.[8][1] Audio mastering took place at Gateway Mastering Studios in Portland, Maine.[8]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Musically, Sheryl Crow was described as a combination of rock, blues, alternative rock, country, folk, and light hip hop loops.[9] Unlike its predecessor, it also features a more off-balance production and a richer instrumentation,[9] with "lots of fuzz, wurlitzer, hammond, moog. Nothing extreme, perhaps, but almost psychedelic when joined to big mainstream melodies", one critic explained.[10] The album covers topics of American life, relationship breakups, and moralism, among others.[11] For example, "Home" is a folk ballad where Crow recounts the emotional difficulties of a deteriorating relationship,[12] while "Superstar" deals with a woman fantasizing about stardom.[13] The song "A Change Would Do You Good", which features hand claps and organ licks,[1] is about the need to escape a constricted life.[13]

The opening track, "Maybe Angels", was described as "a cryptic ode to UFOs and government conspiracies that plays like an X-Files theme song."[11] Crow explained that the song is "an extraterrestrial yarn that finds Kurt Cobain joining John Lennon in heaven's winged choir".[14] The track "Redemption Day" is a protest against the US indifference to the Bosnian War.[13] It was inspired when Crow visited the country as part of a USO trip with Hillary and Chelsea Clinton.[1] The song was later covered by Johnny Cash, appearing on his 2010 posthumous record American VI: Ain't No Grave.[15] The track "Hard to Make a Stand" references abortion,[12] while "Love Is a Good Thing" criticizes Walmart's gun sales policy with the lyrics "Watch out sister/Watch out brother/Watch our children as they kill each other/with a gun they bought at the Wal-Mart discount stores."[16] The song caused some controversy, resulting in Walmart banning sales of the album at their stores.[16]

Unlike other songs from the album, "If It Makes You Happy" has a simple verse–chorus form,[12] but underwent different arrangements before being turned into a rock song.[17] According to musician Jeff Trott, who co-wrote the song along with Crow, "It started off as a twangy, David Lynch-esque sort of thing. Then [...] we played it like punk rock, really fast, as well as country and funky. You know, you get a song and put clothes on it to see what looks good and what doesn't, and usually when you find the right one it's pretty obvious. With that song it was real obvious!"[17] Trott initially wrote the song when he was in Pete Droge's band, but Crow added a second verse and strengthened the melody.[17] Sheryl Crow also has contributions by notable musicians. For example, "Sweet Rosalyn" features saxophone by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, while "Everyday Is a Winding Road" features harmony vocals by Neil Finn of Crowded House.[13]

Release[edit]

Sheryl Crow was released on September 24, 1996.[9] The album reached No. 6 on the US Billboard Top 200 chart and, as of January 2008, sold 2.4 million units in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan, being certified 3× platinum.[18][19][3] In the United Kingdom, Sheryl Crow reached No. 5 on the UK Albums Chart and was certified 3× platinum.[20][4] A special edition of the album, entitled Sheryl Crow - Signature Tour Edition, was released Australia and Japan in 1997. It contains the bonus tracks "Sad Sad World" and an alternate version of "Hard to Make a Stand" as well as a bonus CD with six songs recorded live at Shepherd's Bush Empire in London on the November 26, 1996.[21][22] This 2CD set was also released as Sheryl Crow - Special Edition in the United Kingdom in 1997.[23]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[9]
Entertainment Weekly A−[11]
Robert Christgau (1-star Honorable Mention)[24]
Slant Magazine 4.5/5 stars[12]
Spin 8/10[10]
The New Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[25]

Sheryl Crow received general acclaim from most music critics. Eric Weisbard of David Fricke of Spin praised the album's production, stating that the record "goes much further" than its predecessor and that its "bigger beats and dirtier guitar/keyboard effects [work] well with Crow's literate hippie-chick persona".[10] David Browne of Entertainment Weekly stated similar pros, commenting: "If there's such a thing as a professional lo-fi album, Sheryl Crow is it."[11] Writing for Rolling Stone, editor David Fricke highlighted the single "If It Makes You Happy", but criticized "Hard to Make a Stand" for its similarity to "Tumbling Dice" by the Rolling Stones and "Sweet Jane" by the Velvet Underground.[26]

Sheryl Crow was ranked at number 26 in The Village Voice's 1996 Pazz & Jop critics' poll.[27] At the 39th Annual Grammy Awards, the album was awarded Best Rock Album and Crow received the Best Female Rock Vocal Performance award for the song "If It Makes You Happy".[28] In 1999, Rolling Stone selected Sheryl Crow as one of the essential albums of the decade.[29] In 2002, the mamazine also ranked it at number 44 in its list of Women in Rock: The 50 Essential Albums.[30] In 2003, the album was featured in the Vital Pop: 50 Essential Pop Albums list by Slant Magazine.[31] In 2008, Entertainment Weekly magazine placed the album at number 39 in their list of Top 100 Best Albums of the past 25 years.[32]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Maybe Angels"   Sheryl Crow, Bill Bottrell 4:56
2. "A Change Would Do You Good"   Crow, Jeff Trott, Brian MacLeod 3:50
3. "Home"   Crow 4:51
4. "Sweet Rosalyn"   Crow, Trott 3:58
5. "If It Makes You Happy"   Crow, Trott 5:23
6. "Redemption Day"   Crow 4:27
7. "Hard to Make a Stand"   Crow, Bottrell, Todd Wolfe, R.S. Bryan 3:07
8. "Everyday Is a Winding Road"   Crow, MacLeod, Trott 4:16
9. "Love Is a Good Thing"   Crow, Tad Wadhams 4:43
10. "Oh Marie"   Crow, Trott, Bottrell 3:30
11. "Superstar"   Crow, Trott 4:58
12. "The Book"   Crow, Trott 4:34
13. "Ordinary Morning"   Crow 3:55

Personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from AllMusic.[33]

Charts and certifications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Fred Schruers (1996-11-14). "Sheryl Crow: She Only Wants to Be With You". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2015-09-07. Retrieved 2016-01-17. 
  2. ^ a b c d Steve Huey. "Sheryl Crow - Biography". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 2015-03-08. Retrieved 2016-01-18. 
  3. ^ a b c "American album certifications – Sheryl Crow – Sheryl Crow". Recording Industry Association of America. Archived from the original on 2016-01-10. Retrieved 2016-01-10. 
  4. ^ a b c "British album certifications – Sheryl Crow – Sheryl Crow". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2016-01-10.  Enter Sheryl Crow in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search.
  5. ^ "1994 Grammy Award Winners". Grammy.com. Archived from the original on 2015-02-12. Retrieved 2016-01-18. 
  6. ^ "Sheryl Crow belts out hopes, fears". Bangor Daily News: C4. 1996-10-25. Retrieved 2016-01-18. 
  7. ^ J.D. Considine (1996-10-01). "Sheryl Crow's enemies are envious". Sarasota Herald-Tribune: 2E. Retrieved 2016-01-18. 
  8. ^ a b Sheryl Crow (CD booklet). Sheryl Crow. A&M Records. 1996. 540 592 2, 540. 
  9. ^ a b c d Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Sheryl Crow". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 2016-01-09. Retrieved 2016-01-09. 
  10. ^ a b c Eric Weisbard (November 1996). "Sheryl Crow". Spin 12 (8): 121. Retrieved 2016-01-11. 
  11. ^ a b c d David Browne (1996-09-27). "Sheryl Crow". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 2016-01-09. Retrieved 2016-01-09. 
  12. ^ a b c d Sal Cinquemani (2003-09-29). "Sheryl Crow". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on 2015-05-12. Retrieved 2016-01-11. 
  13. ^ a b c d "Sheryl Crow still turning up the heat". Spartanburg Herald-Journal: A13. 1996-09-23. Retrieved 2016-01-23. 
  14. ^ "Sheryl Crow". NME. 1996-10-05. 
  15. ^ Andy Gill (2010-02-19). "Album: Johnny Cash, American VI: Ain't No Grave (American)". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2012-10-28. Retrieved 2016-01-09. 
  16. ^ a b Marcus Errico (1996-09-11). "Wal-Mart Bans Sheryl Crow's Next Album". E! Online. Archived from the original on 2015-04-03. Retrieved 2016-01-09. 
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  22. ^ Sheryl Crow - Signature Tour Edition (CD booklet). Sheryl Crow. A&M Records. 1997. POCM-9023/4. 
  23. ^ Sheryl Crow - Special Edition (CD booklet). Sheryl Crow. A&M Records. 1997. 540 719 2. 
  24. ^ Robert Christgau. "Sheryl Crow". Robertchristgau.com. Archived from the original on 2005-01-03. Retrieved 2016-01-11. 
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  27. ^ "The 1996 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. 1997-02-25. Archived from the original on 2015-02-14. Retrieved 2016-01-10. 
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  29. ^ "Essential Recordings of the 90's". Rolling Stone: 54. 1999-05-13. 
  30. ^ "Women in Rock: The 50 Essential Albums". Rolling Stone (908): 140. 2002-10-31. 
  31. ^ "Vital Pop: 50 Essential Pop Albums". Slant Magazine. 2003-06-30. Archived from the original on 2016-01-10. Retrieved 2016-01-10. 
  32. ^ "Records that rocked". Entertainment Weekly. 2008-06-20. Archived from the original on 2015-10-01. Retrieved 2016-01-09. 
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  48. ^ "Swiss album certifications – Sheryl Crow – Sheryl Crow". Swisscharts.com. Archived from the original on 2016-01-10. Retrieved 2016-01-10. 
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External links[edit]