It's no surprise Sheryl Crow has growninto such a classic-rock sage – even when she was coming up in the Nineties,she relished the role of a grizzled road warrior who sang about still gettingstoned and scraping mold off the bread. Her excellent new BeMyself is her toughest and best in a decade, a full-blown return toher fierce rock-queen glory. She aims directly at the torn-and-frayed guitargroove of her Nineties records, but with flourishes of her recent detours intoMemphis soul and Nashville country. Crow flashes her nasty streak inthe highlight "Heartbeat Away," where her bluesy guitar sounds aspissed off as her voice – she rages against crooks who steal both elections ("Russia'sblowing up the phone") and loot, snarling, "Ain't no silver in thebank vaults/There's just paper where the money used to be." Her windingroad takes her through lovelorn laments ("Strangers Again") andyoga-mama romance ("Rest of Me"). Crow's a grown-up with doubtsabout all this clicking the kids are into – one of the kickiest pop gems herehas the chorus, "Put your phone away, let's roller skate." Yet BeMyself has a well-tooled sheen, crafted with her old-time comrades JeffTrott and Tchad Blake; "Halfway There" choogles like a weird lostcollabo between the Cars and Al Green. She sounds mournful when sings "angermakes the world go round" – yet that angry edge helps keep Crow burningbright in dark times.
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