Sheryl Crow - 'Feels Like Home'

American singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow has long been associated with country music whilst not formally being part of the genre. Her newest album Feels Like Home is the singer's first complete foray into country music. After performing Coal Miner's Daughter alongside Miranda Lambert and Loretta Lynn at the 2010 CMA Awards, country star Brad Paisley suggested that she "come home" to the format he believed she belonged to and this album is the result of that.

Feels Like Home is a very accomplished selection of twelve tracks and reminds fans of hits such as Everyday Is A Winding Road and The First Cut Is The Deepest as well as introducing more of a country feel that I am sure will be popular. Sheryl seems to have a lot of respect for the country genre and for the fans and wanted to reassure sceptics, saying “I’ve seen other kind of pop-oriented people come over to the format and kinda try to capitalise on the loyalty of the country fan base, and I’m super-persnickety about it".

The Brent Anderson and Rodney Clawson written Callin' Me When I'm Lonely is one of my favourite songs on the album. The instrumentalisation is a perfect level and Sheryl delivers a confident performance. Starting with a drums and electric guitar intro this is immediately then stripped back when Sheryl starts singing, allowing the focus to be on the vocals. In my opinion her voice really suits country music and it seems to be something she is comfortable in.
I also found Homecoming Queen to be another favourite. It is one of the more sombre tracks on the album but opens up for Sheryl to deliver an emotive performance. The instrumentalisation fits in with the story behind the track and also keeps what is quite a slow track moving along well. Lyrically it is also very strong and I would definitely suggest listening closely.

It is also definitely worth mentioning the emotional Waterproof Mascara. It has been frequently suggested that the track hearkens back to the era of country stars such as Tammy Wynette and Kitty Wells and I would definitely agree. Sheryl gives a heartfelt performance of what is lyrically a brilliant song however I would have liked to have had the instrumentalisation stripped back a bit - possibly with just her and an acoustic guitar to allow even more emotion to come through.

My least favourite songs are probably Give It To Me and Stay At Home Mother. Give It To Me features excellent backing vocals from Vince Gill and Ashley Monroe however I feel the full orchestral arrangement at points is too much and then the verses feel a little flat. Stay At Home Mother is lyrically a strong song however the instrumentalisation and overall production makes the track feel a little dull, particularly when you compare it to more upbeat tracks such as Shotgun and current single Easy.

Track listing....
1) Shotgun - Sheryl Crow, Chris DuBois, Kelley Lovelace, John Shanks
2) Easy - Sheryl Crow, Chris DuBois, Jeff Trott
3) Give It To Me (featuring Vince Gill and Ashley Monroe) - Sheryl Crow, Jeff Trott
4) We Oughta Be Drinkin' - Sheryl Crow, Chris DuBois, Luke Laird
5) Callin' Me When I'm Lonely - Rodney Clawson, Brent Anderson
6) Waterproof Mascara - Sheryl Crow, Chris DuBois, Brad Paisley
7) Crazy Ain't Original (featuring Ashley Monroe) - Sheryl Crow, Al Anderson, Leslie Satcher
8) Nobody's Business - Sheryl Crow, Chris DuBois, Kelley Lovelace
9) Homesick (featuring Zac Brown) - Sheryl Crow, Chris Stapleton
10) Homecoming Queen - Brandy Clark, Luke Laird, Shane McAnally
11) Best Of Times - Sheryl Crow, Al Anderson, Leslie Satcher
12) Stay At Home Mother - Sheryl Crow, Natalie Hemby

Recommended tracks - Callin' Me When I'm Lonely, Homecoming Queen, Shotgun, Easy and Waterproof Mascara.

This is a really strong album from Sheryl Crow and I sincerely hope country fans do not write her off as an artist trying to capitalise on the genre's popularity as I honestly believe she is more deserving of a place in the genre than artists such as Kelly Clarkson and even to an extent Taylor Swift.