The fear and drive behind Sheryl Crow’s 1996 self-titled album was palatable, its crunchy guitar licks and glossy production a surprising contrast to her roosty, beer-logged debut. But aside from a few choice cuts (“My Favorite Mistake,” “Riverwide”), the singer’s third studio album, The Globe Sessions, was a demure disappointment. With her latest effort, however, Crow sets out to recreate the classic summer sound of her youth and the result is a collection of songs that falls somewhere in between the sonic timbre of Sheryl Crow and the emotional austerity of The Globe Sessions.
On the one hand, C’mon, C’mon achieves its intended classic rock ether and even revives Crow’s trademark quirk: “My friend the communist/Holds meetings in his RV,” she sings on the breezy, Beach Boys-esque “Soak Up the Sun.” The disc’s opening track, the Steve Miller-inspired “Steve McQueen,” sums up Crow’s renewed musical joys with a declaration that could be as much a vow to herself as it is to the listener: “I wanna rock n’ roll this party/I still wanna have some fun.” You don’t sound so convinced, Sheryl. Yet the tangy title track and the gorgeous “Weather Channel” find Crow’s voice at its most assured, meshed affably with the background harmonies of Stevie Nicks and Emmylou Harris, respectively.
On the other hand, much of C’mon, C’mon consists of what seems like lazy filler. The gritty edge of “If It Makes You Happy” and the leftfield musings of “Maybe Angels” have been replaced with the mediocrity of tracks like “It’s So Easy,” an Adult Contemporary duet with Don Henley (could it get any less edgy?). Sure, it’s not hard to imagine driving around some suburban town on a balmy summer night with the windows down and a classic rock-inspired track like “You’re an Original” pumping from the speakers. But while Crow was busy emulating (and reminiscing), it seems she forgot that she had once created a little piece of her own musical history.