Sheryl Crow: Threads review – Americana-pop queen stitches genre-hop farewell

(Big Machine)
Big-name guests abound in a valedictory 11th album that offers a fitting reminder of Crow’s melancholy magic

With her 11th and reportedly final album, Sheryl Crow undertakes a confident albeit meandering victory lap. Across 17 songs and 75 minutes of frayed Americana and back-porch country she collaborates with no fewer than 23 artists, each one representing either Crow’s musical idols turned friends (Keith Richards, Stevie Nicks) or new-ish musicians she sees as the future (St Vincent, Maren Morris). Most of the 12 originals, four covers and one reworking of her own anti-war anthem Redemption Day loosely fall under the umbrella of protest songs, with the Chuck D-assisted Story of Everything touching on political idiocy, while opener Prove You Wrong tackles sexism and, as she recently told the LA Times, the sentiment of: “if anyone thinks that I can’t, let me just show you that I can.”

Sheryl Crow: Threads album art work
Sheryl Crow: Threads album art work Photograph: Publicity Image

It’s a stance Crow has continually been forced to take since she swapped being Michael Jackson’s backing singer in the late 1980s for her own hugely successful career dabbling in rock, country and pop. Not cool enough to hang with the mid-90s rock crowd, Crow found herself dismissed as MOR-lite. But her biggest hits were often Trojan horses for more challenging topics (Everyday Is a Winding Road, for instance, touches on a friend’s suicide), infused with an easy melancholia. While Threads’ pop nous isn’t quite as obvious, and its themes more heavily signposted, it still offers some beautiful moments, specifically the crumpled rock of Cross Creek Road that recalls the highlights of her 1996 self-titled album. Elsewhere, the aforementioned Prove You Wrong, featuring Nicks and Morris, is a breezy bar-room stomper, while the fragile, Vince Gill-assisted closer For the Sake of Love showcases Crow’s lived-in voice to perfection.

Threads starts to, ahem, unravel when the tempo is kicked up a gear. So the hobbled strut of St Vincent collaboration Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You awkwardly showcases Crow’s rap aspirations, while Story of Everything’s six-minute genre-hop takes you on an occasionally embarrassing journey from dustbowl honky-tonk to really-makes-you-think hip-hop. Some collaborators could have been edited too, not least tantric yoga’s Sting, who mews unhelpfully on an otherwise welcome cover of George Harrison’s Beware of Darkness.

As a final hurrah, however, Threads is an ambitious, gloriously overstuffed reminder of Crow’s talents.


Michael Cragg

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Sheryl Crow review – sublime anthems from defiant country-rocker
Though she may not be as zeitgeisty as she once was, the nine-time Grammy-winner just keeps getting better as a live performer

Dave Simpson

26, Jun, 2019 @10:03 AM

Article image
Sheryl Crow, musician

Singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow talks about doing a jingle for McDonald's, throwing herself into country music – and sacrificing her love life for her career

Laura Barnett

11, Feb, 2014 @5:53 PM

Article image
Sheryl Crow: Be Myself review – a punchy return to form

Dave Simpson

20, Apr, 2017 @9:00 PM

Article image
Waxahatchee: Saint Cloud review – the best album of the year so far
With tracks that nestle in heartache and bask in hard-won wisdom, this is an artefact of American song that measures up to Dylan at his peak

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

27, Mar, 2020 @10:00 AM

Article image
The Teskey Brothers review – Aussie blues revivalists let the good times roll
With their blend of Muscle Shoals soul, boogie-woogie and pub rock, the Teskey Brothers are trapped in the past – but make gorgeous music nonetheless

Alexis Petridis

26, Jan, 2020 @10:00 AM

Article image
Frazey Ford: U Kin B the Sun review | Alexis Petridis's album of the week
The former Be Good Tanyas member develops her intimate version of southern soul – but fills it with strife from relationship breakdowns to gun issues

Alexis Petridis

06, Feb, 2020 @12:00 PM

Article image
Sheryl Crow – review
Sheryl Crow's performance is a two hour-plus marathon soul revue, complete with Memphis horns and a singer who you suspect may have to be arm-wrestled from the stage, writes Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson

13, Oct, 2010 @9:31 PM

Article image
Jade Bird: Jade Bird review – edgy, unsparing Americana
Bird’s debut shows an artist polished and forceful, but sometimes her sparkle gets sanded down

Michael Hann

19, Apr, 2019 @8:00 AM

Article image
Ray Davies: Americana review – mooted masterwork sounds weedy

Jude Rogers

20, Apr, 2017 @10:15 PM

Article image
The 50 best albums of 2019: the full list
Our pick of the year’s finest albums brings American dreaming, teenage dynamism, heartbreak, barbed rap, impetuous indie and beautiful soundscapes

20, Dec, 2019 @9:41 AM