Sheryl Crow

C'mon C'mon

Originally released: 2002
A&M Records

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On her fourth studio album, Sheryl Crow is beginning to second-guess herself, underestimating the resilience of her hardy, well-crafted tunes. Perhaps wary of overwhelming or obscuring those songs with a good rocking out, she invites a studioful of illustrious classic rockers (Don Henley) and alternative types (Liz Phair) to add a social richness to an album that lacks a musical backbone. Despite the beach-radio-fun of the delightful first single, "Soak Up the Sun," C'mon, C'mon is devoid of the dreamy first-light coherence and good-time-gal oomph that Crow can pull off so effortlessly. Instead, it's heavy on billowy ballads and rife with unforgivably lazy lyrics ("Life is what happens while you're making plans"; "It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got").

That's not to say there's no commercial potential: the chorus of "You're an Original" (with Lenny Kravitz) is destined to be plucked and carefully framed for future car ads, and "It's So Easy" is an abysmal power-ballad duet with Henley that reeks of Diane Warren ("It's so easy, but it isn't right," indeed). "Safe and Sound" is another oversize, echoey slow one for which Crow's breathy and weak soprano is inadequate. But her gutsy midrange is just right for the vroom-vroom opener, "Steve McQueen," the lovely, slow-plucking guitar accompaniment on "Weather Channel" (with Emmylou Harris) and for "Hole in My Pocket" with its snaky bass. Still, it's frustrating to imagine how much more power Crow could amp up by tattering the edges of her best songs and avoiding the crowd-pleasing delicacy that makes her sound like a Sheryl Crow cover band. Led by Bob Seger.

(RS 894 - April 25, 2002)

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