THE SCENT OF MAGNOLIA AND A dense, stifling humidity oozes through Sheryl Crow’s music just like the outskirts of the smalltown Missouri area she’s from. If she hadn’t got a break singing with Michael Jackson, chances are she’d be fronting a fairly successful covers bar band down South.
As a global contender, however, she gets to exert that special gift she has for turning everyday crises into dramas. Which isn’t to say that ‘The Globe Sessions’ is full of histrionic, overblown songs recorded by a homesick, world-weary star in New York City – more to remark on the barely suppressed sense of hysteria beneath the shitkicking attitude and baleful humour.
Innovation? Pah. Corporations now rule. The world has been made safe for Sheryl Crow music, which means it’s been made safe for a conservative and traditional idea of revolt that owes something to the Old Glory rebel flag.
She ridicules decadence, the dance ethic and politicians on ‘Members Only’, and then goes on to defend a beleaguered American President on an untitled track sandwiched between the reactionary ‘Crash And Burn’ and the wistful blues of ‘Resuscitation’. The thematic link lies deep in Southern roots. Why else see, albeit from a third person perspective, the destruction of the Eastern coastline as a good thing?
Not everything here is mired in frontier mentality. ‘My Favourite Mistake’ shimmies as a groovy single should and ‘There Goes The Neighbourhood’, complete with comedy handclaps, sees Crow getting all upbeat. Plus, the despairing love-gone-wrong songs are suitably sad, desperate and then defiant (especially on ‘The Difficult Kind’). Nonetheless, it’s just that the sense of place seems too strong. Even the Bob Dylan song she covers, ‘Mississippi’, is all about being changed by that strange, bittersweet, lush, verdant place.