HAVING had hits all over the world and with album sales in excess of 35 million, Sheryl Crow could be forgiven for sitting back and taking things a little easy.
But as she prepares to play Manchester’s Albert Hall on Saturday night, the singer admits that her latest album Be Myself is possibly “the most authentic record I’ve made”.
It’s a return to the albums she made in the Nineties such as Sheryl Crow and The Globe Sessions which spawned hits including If It Makes You Happy and Every Day is a Winding Road.
That can partly be attributed to the fact that Sheryl worked with the same production team - Jeff Trott and Tchad Blake.
“Yes, you could say I’ve got the old gang back together again,” she laughed.
Trott has been a regular collaborator over the years, but Be Myself saw her working with Blake for the first time in 19 years.
“Jeff and I got right into our old way of recording,” said Cheryl. “At the 11th hour I asked ‘what’s missing from this?’ and we called Tchad and asked if he’d fly over which he did and within four or five weeks the whole record was completed.
“It was really a fun record to make, it was very effortless.
“We wrote and recorded at the same time which is what basically Jeff and I always did. We would put down ideas and by the time we finished writing the record was pretty much done.”
Blake suggested the album title once the songs had been laid down.
“The more I thought about it, the more it resonated as being the most obvious name for the album,” said Sheryl.
“There’s nothing I didn’t talk about on the record - it’s all out there,” she says.
A self-confessed ‘liberal’ it’s no surprise that Be Myself covers issues including social inequality and the general unrest facing the world at the moment.
“Obviously a lot on it is talking about what happening in America right now and that’s not terribly uplifting,” said Sheryl. “It’s pretty truthful but it’s also very personal, it’s about what’s really going on.
“But most of the songs were written in early summer last year so we didn’t know that Donald Trump would even be running for president let alone get in to the White House.”
One song - Heartbeat Away - even has references to Russia’s involvement in cyber hacking,
“I think there was a lot in the ether when this record was being made,” she said.
Critics have been delighted by the album, claiming that Be Myself is a real return to form.
Her previous album, 2013’s Feels Like Home, had a much more obvious country feel
“I certainly haven’t turned my back on country,” she said. “My songs throughout my career have been pretty informed by old-school country music like Emmylou Harris, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Johnny Cash - people like that.
“So the influences are still all there but as far as format goes, those days are behind me. Being limited to a format is more of a struggle than I want to take on.
“And with the country format in America now you are extremely limited to what you can do or say and that doesn’t work for who I am.
“I’ve been really lucky to have been around for long time. People ask me why that is and to be honest I don’t know. But it’s my job and I’m more excited about it now that I have in years.”
A brief UK tour will allow Sheryl the chance to introduce her new songs to fans over here.
“It’s really fun to have a new record and I’m really excited about playing the songs,” she said.
“The UK has such a legacy for live music and that’s one of the reasons I like coming over. I think there is a reverence and a love for music that you don’t find everywhere in the world.”
Sheryl Crow, Albert Hall, Manchester, Saturday, May 20. Details from www.gigsandtours.com