Throwback Thursday Album (a few days late): Sheryl Crow’s “Sheryl Crow”

SHERYL CROW LP 1996

 

I haven’t always been a fan of Sheryl Crow.

I’m going to date myself here but when Tuesday Night Music Club dropped, I wasn’t particularly fond of “Leaving Las Vegas.” It was slow sounding, and back then I was still a rap and hip hop head listening to WuTang Clan, Biggie, with the few rock bands that snuck into my tape (yes I was around for tapes) collection – Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M, The Black Crowes, etc. These were all artists that kept me awake, alert, and entertained. And I wasn’t thrilled with Sheryl’s voice overall. The, like most teens my age, “All I Wanna Do” dropped, and I instantly changed my tune towards her. It was fast, funny, and had a great melody. Pretty much pop rock gold, which turned into platinum for her. Followed by “Can’t Cry Anymore” and I was pretty much hooked.

Then her second album, “Sheryl Crow,” finally arrived. I remember vividly ordering the tape from our campus store (which stopped selling cassettes and instead sold cds for EVERY artist) and once it arrived, I was completely blown away with it. She produced it, which back then and now for that matter – for a woman to produce her own music – pretty much unheard of  unfortunately. While Bill Botrell was behind the debut album production, this one was Sheryl. Plus 1. It was filled with just absolute greatness. I can’t say back in 1996 offhand that every cassette I owned was great from beginning to end, but THIS album my dear friends was. Every song to me, was a potential single, and every song had a message, hiding behind the pop rock and the quirky sound effects. The melodies worked extremely well with her voice and the lyrics were simple yet effective. And let’s face it on a “A Change Would Do You Good,” there were hand claps. I’m a fan of the hand claps. More songs need hand claps. That was a no brainer hit.

“If It Makes You Happy” to this day makes me laugh – not in a mean way, but the chorus kills me. “If It makes you happy, it can’t be that bad. If It makes you happy then why the hell are you so sad?” Why does it kill me? Because this chorus reigns true to life to this day, 21 years later. Things that make people happy should make us happy, not sad. If it makes us sad, then we shouldn’t continue to do things that make us sad. It’s just that simple. Plus 2. I also love the fact that while she sings the chorus, it comes completely across as shouting to me – as if she was trying to drive the idea home. I hear ya Sheryl. I hear ya. Even my mom thought this was a hit and she doesn’t like anyone.

Another favorite of mine, “Sweet Rosalyn,” is about a woman who keeps her head above water, working just enough to get by but she needs something to keep her going, to continue the fight, to keep her moving forward as they say. My favorite line is “Well, maybe we all could use a little grace to know when to run and when to stay in one place.” It’s not a long song lyrically, but it still makes an impact with the instrumentation. Between the slide, the dobro, and twangy guitars, I was pretty much sold on this one. Sheryl throws down on this one y’all. Check out this video of it.

 

 

I will always support Sheryl because I remember her fighting with Walmart in regards to the song, “Love is a Good Thing.” For those who don’t know, there’s a lyric about kids who use guns they purchased at Walmart. At that time, it was very true. And Walmart didn’t take too kindly to her statement (despite the stories hitting the news revealing where the guns came from) and removed her album from the stores. She stood firm though, and she didn’t give in. That to me, was completely awesome. And fierce. You rule Sheryl. She wanted it to be known that we need to do something about gun control. She sings it so nonchalantly but in doing so, made a big statement. Plus 3.

The opener, “Maybe Angels” is the song that kicked off my love for this album…the piano in particular. It just sounds so weird with the guitar riff that it fits. So weird. But it fits. And the subject matter about not being able to feel angels, but they are around. “I swear they’re out there, I swear…” It’s a mid tempo toe tapper (Say that FIVE times fast. I dare you. It’s ok. I’ll wait.” She finds angels to be mysterious, but she knows..she has a feeling…that the unexplained..can only be answered by angels. The rockers who have passed away, they’re coming back too. Ok, Sheryl. I believe you.

I won’t go on and on, but this is truly a great album. From beginning to end, it entertains, and you hear something different with each listen. AND she broke the dreaded second album slump AND the “Best New Artist” curse that hits many after winning a Grammy. Thank you Sheryl for releasing a perfect pop gem. My ears thank you as well.

 

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Bea Miller: No Apology Necessary

Just wanted to tip my fellow earbudders on a young singer named Bea Miller. Every few years, there is a female singer that strikes the heart of young folks and older folks like myself. Bea Miller is that singer at the present moment. With her heartfelt lyrics about fitting in, standing up for yourself, growing up, and taking life as it comes, her album, “Not an Apology” is just that – not an apology for who she is. In a time where females are expected to be perfect with no flaws, Miller takes her flaws and wears them like a badge of honor. She is open about her fears, her loves and securities. It takes guts to put feelings into a song for those to accept or reject. But she is a delight in taking that risk. She calls people out for how she was treated (Paper Doll), dares people to change (I Dare You), and just plain rocks out with no regrets (title track), and takes charge of her actions (We’re Taking Over). I think it’s pretty much pop gold for the summer. If you have never heard of her, I suggest you go and listen to her. You won’t be disappointed.

As pop gooeyness as this album is, “Young Blood,” the opening track, is my particular favorite. “But in dark times when we close our eyes, it’s a nightmare, it’s a nightmare. When the sun don’t shine we lose our minds but I swear we can get there.” That’s my favorite verse. I believe, and I could be wrong, that she’s trying to convey the idea of doing things for ourselves despite the trials. We can run away from our troubles, but we eventually have to go against them head on and we WILL overcome them all because we’re young and strong. We can’t be destroyed. Wear the strength well and use it to your advantage. Nothing is perfect, but we can try and trying to overcome is betting than nothing. Don’t give up, and don’t back down. It’s a great song and a great attitude to have.

So cheers to Bea Miller for helping people get through life, and helping us realize we’re not alone. There are many of us, of various ages, trying to make it through life one day at a time. And no we’re not apologizing for it.

She’s so young, but with an old soul. And that, my fellow earbudders, is my review of the moment.

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Album of the Week: The Veronicas

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The one good thing about the fall I enjoy is record companies issuing releases in time for Christmas (or whatever else you might celebrate). It’s like their last push for music ear budders like myself to get into new bands or singers that we might not have heard anything from and I dig that. That being said, this is a band that is a perfect example. I don’t know much about The Veronicas other than they’re Australian, they’re twins, and they have a single called “You Ruined Me.” When I heard this first single, I was a little hesitant because I thought, “Ok, here we go, another band writing sad sap music and singing about a love lost.” So when I was sent their latest self tilted album I already had a preconceived notion. I have to say, I couldn’t have BEEN more wrong if I tried. These ladies are, as Robbie Williams says, “the tits.” They do not disappoint. Lisa and Jessica Origliasso have made an album that captures all the best in music today – melodies, dance, pop, electronic, solid songwriting, and vocals. If this album doesn’t sell well, it’ll be a tragedy because they really really are wonderful. Stand out tracks – really, the WHOLE ALBUM. It’s a rarity that I go for every song on an album. Most albums have at least two songs of filler. But these ladies know their stuff. They know what works, and what doesn’t. They really have something for everyone. Let me give you a run down of a few tracks:

1. Sanctified – A sexy sultry boot stomping “take me to the river” jam about love and the feeling, the intense feeling you get when you’re wrapped up in it. Truly beautiful.

2. Do You Miss Me? – If you are a fan of electronic music with a hint of synths and industrial elements, then this is right up your alley. It’s dance-y, bouncy, and honestly… a rap song lol. Trust me. It’s excellent. Their raps intertwined with industrial undertones can be compared to any rapper out there today. I’m not lying. It’s good shit.

3. Cruel – Easily a radio hit. It’s reminiscent of bands like Paramore, Sleeper Agent, Echosmith, and the like. It’s very catchy. The main objective: being upset at the ex boyfriend who shows off his new flavor of the month, and virtually ignoring his ex.. And every time she sees them together, it is like a knife to the heart. She sees it as a cruel and heartless. She wants him to miss her. We’ve all been there haven’t we?

4.  Line of Fire – Another sexy tune but with a hip hop beat behind it. The vocals just ooze sex if that’s possible. They’re setting you up for the kill. They know what they want and won’t expect anything less.

5.  Teenage Millionaire – Another dance track about a love affair that they treasure as the richest thing in their lives and that relationship is so grand it makes them famous. If only all love could be like that, no?

6. Born Bob Dylan – This is truly a standout for me. The lyrics are wonderfully beautiful. She is trying to capture how she feels for someone but can’t. She tries. But can’t, so she wishes she could be as poetic as Bob Dylan. She struggles because she KNOWS how she feels in her heart, but words seem to escape her. It’s another radio friendly potential single that is an absolute winner for me.

I love this album folks. I won’t reveal all the tracks. But I thank The Veronicas for giving me faith in good pop music again. So many influences are heard in this album. If you want to hear an array of entertainment, I suggest you give them a listen.

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Album of the Week: Nick Jonas.

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I admit. I’m a Nick Jonas fan.

I’m a wee bit older than ol’ Nicholas. And frankly I’ve never been a HUGE Jo Bro fan per se’. But I’ve always had an affinity for Nick. And I think all of us older ladies were a bit giddy when he finally turned 18. Ok so maybe I was the only one. But I always thought he was adorable, and I also thought he was the only one with true talent lol. So it didn’t surprise me one bit that he released a solo album. And he did NOT disappoint. Nick Jonas’ second effort away from the Jonas Brothers (the first being with the Administration – a more bluesy album) is completely dipped in r&b sauce with a dab of pop music and served with an appetizer of dance music on the side. I have to admit, I was impressed. The first single “Chains” I take it was to showcase a more grown up Nick and it succeeded. The melody is hard and it’s extremely catchy – all the makings of a pop hit. It has dark undertones with the bass line but overall it’s fantastic. I automatically kept an eye out on when the album would be released. So fast forward a month later, and it’s finally here. Now I know what you’re thinking. “Ew, he was in a boy band. Why give him a chance?” Well, you remember a certain boy bander named Justin Timberlake faced the same thing and look where he is now. Is Nick on that way to super stardom? Who knows, but he is definitely on his way on being a household name at the very least. My favorite tracks that you could at least download and see for yourself are the following:

“Chains” – Very dark. Very grown up. Very mature. Very awesome.

“Warning” – Straight up r&b and pop. A no brainer in the radio department. And a repetitive chorus that will get stuck in your head for a while. Trust me on that.

“Numb” – Another r&b banger. Complete with a rap by Angel Haze. The staccato delivery and echoes just illustrate he is no longer a teen idol anymore.

“Teacher” – Very very excellent. It’s Prince influenced. That’s all I can say. See below.

“I Want You” – A pop gem that should be a potential single. It’s just perfect.

“Avalanche” – Well I have to admit I’m biased here because I’m a fan of Demi Lovato, who he duets with on this one. It’s loud and fantastically beautifully sung by both. Their vocals are standouts in this one.

Overall, I give the album a B+ but it’s really a good one. You can work out to it, in a gym and out (if you’re lucky enough to get the hook up so to speak), play loudly in a car, or at home. And with a good pair of headphones, rock out on publc transportation. So thank you Nick for not letting me down. One of the few good pop albums I’ve heard this year. Welcome to the world of r&b. I hope you enjoy your stay.

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