Sheryl Crow – Evolution

A soul-searching and liberating surprise return from the Grammy-award winner...

Nine-time Grammy Award winner and 2023 Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Inductee Sheryl Crow has returned with an unexpected album in the shape of ‘Evolution’. Sheryl had previously said she would not record a full-length album after the release of 2019’s ‘Threads’ and her fantastic live album ‘Live From The Ryman & More’ in 2021. 

Speaking to CLASH at the time, she said that “as much as I love the technology and how it separated us, it’s also given us the ability to write a song and to put it out in the immediate without waiting to complete a full artistic statement”.

Talking of her new project, Sheryl in a statement said: “This music and these lyrics came from sitting in the quiet and writing from a deep soul place. I said I’d never make another record, thought there was no point to it. But this music comes from my soul. And I hope whoever hears this record can feel that.”

If this was the intention, it’s a job well done as you can feel every iota of passion and conviction coming from her soul. Especially so when it comes to the titular track which sees her express her concern about the future impact of artificial intelligence on humanity and the planet are expressed on the titular track which sees Sheryl grapples with AI with lines like: “Turned on the radio and there it was / A song that sounded like something I wrote / The voice and melody were hauntingly / So familiar that I thought it was a joke…”  She relays her consternation on how AI can replicate us all and is inherently more far-reaching than just music and how it can make feelings obsolete. 

Sheryl has always had plenty of heart, and this is showcased throughout the entire album but especially on this track which builds to a soaring crescendo which comes complete with an epic guitar solo from Rage Against the Machine guitarist and occasional E Street alumni Tom Morello which sees Sheryl celebrate humanity and the bold, the messy and the beautiful feelings that this encapsulates. 

On ‘Don’t Walk Away’, the emotion continues with Sheryl where she mourns a loss of connection on both a personal and a societal level. She questions the loss of herself with the heartbreaking line ‘And I’ve lost the part of me that you once loved’ and this emotive piano-led track also outlines her thoughts on connection on a wider level with the lines: “Seems like no one stays together anymore/ It’s just too easy to walk out an open door…” It’s fragile, raw and confessional, but sees Sheryl at her most intimate and it’s absolutely heart-stoppingly beautiful.

There are lighter, more exuberant moments which come in the shape of the album’s opener and lead single ‘Alarm Clock’ where she sings of eschewing anything that holds her back including your alarm clock. Giving advice like the pithy line’ if the “office calls don’t call ’em back” and how it’s a “beautiful life”, this is classic Sheryl with its crunching guitars and devil-may-care lyrics (I will reference Sheryl when I ignore the office next…!)

Her breezy attitude is also present in ‘Do It Again’ which is reminiscent of tracks like ‘Everyday Is A Winding Road’ and ‘Soak Up The Sun’ with its buoyant guitars. She sings of learning to let go and “let love in” which feels like a true antidote to all this AI bullshit. Like most of us, she is trying to evolve and figure life out. Quoting Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle and pondering the philosophies of life, Sheryl self-asserts that: “All I know is I’m doing the best that I can / There’s so much I don’t know, so I learn to let go…” This is the epitome of giving zero fucks and the importance of living your life joyfully. 

The bluesy guitars can be heard throughout, but especially on ‘Love Life’ where Sheryl takes a trip down memory lane where she would drink strawberry wine whilst dancing at a nightclub where she had used her fake ID at. It sounds like a fabulous night out and Sheryl talks of how she never ‘wanted it to end’. 

There’s also a stunning cover of  Peter Gabriel’s 1992 song ‘Digging In The Dirt’ which only appears on certain digital versions of the record which also sees Peter lend his vocals to the track. Sheryl sings with feeling and the additional track really compliments the main theme of the album, human heart, connection and love always prevail. She describes Peter’s song as the lynchpin that started her on her journey to make her eleventh studio album ‘Evolution’.

Sheryl stated that she would unlikely to be releasing a complete body of new work, but with ‘Evolution’ it feels like this has been an album she has been itching to make and she has done so with wisdom, purpose and candour. Truly compelling, her artistry and perspective will make us all open our eyes a little bit wider whilst continuing to hanker after the beautiful human experience. 

8/10

Words: Emma Harrison // @emmahwriter

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