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4.6 out of 5 stars78
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 11 September 2013
"Feels Like Home" is Sheryl Crow "going country". Going country for a pop/rock artist can mean one of two things. Either the artist's career is sagging and wants to tap into a new audience, or the country direction is simply enough facet of the artist in question. Unlike Bon Jovi (who is about as country as Motley Crue), with Sheryl Crow, she clearly demonstrates the later. Sheryl enlisted some big Nashville guns for this project as collaborators: Chris DuBois, Luke Laird, Shane McAnally, Brad Paisley. Her music as always is well-polished.

If you believe her title (and I believe you should), she feels quite at home in her country trappings, as well she should. Of all the major female artists of the 1990s, Sheryl Crow is the closest to country-rock. Her debut, Tuesday Night Music Club, could just as easily have been labelled as country-rock. (Listen to "Nobody Said It Would Be Easy" and don't tell me that that song could easily have been recorded for a country project.) Liz Phair, with "Exile in Guyville", would be the closest contender to a country-rock artist of the 1990s, although her subsequent albums give the feeling that "Exile" was more of an anomaly in her catalogue than anything else.

While "Feels Like Home" may have some great, killer hooks, there is a lot of substance behind that flashy production. Crow manages to tap into the emotionally charged, honesty-driven story-telling that vast amounts of people can relate to on a very real level which always distinguishes the best of country music, all the while retaining her pop sensibilities that made her such a star in the first place.

That's not to say "Feels Like Home" is perfect. The only time the album really gets off kilter is when Crow comes off as trying too hard to be country. Thankfully, this is few an far between. Her twang sounds affected on "Crazy Ain't Original" and "We Oughtta Be Drinkin". Also, the later song, along with the lead single "Easy", appear to be little more than heavy-handed bids for radioplay. A couple of the tracks also get rather heavy handed in terms of social commentary.

"Homecoming Queen" perfectly encapsultates modern country music all the while retaining Crow's musical identity and sense of style. The great confessional "Homesick" would have been at home on any of her early records, and sounds akin to "The Difficult Kind". "Nobody's Business" and "Best of Times" could easily have been placed on any of her records and no one would be any the wiser.

Another track, "Waterproof Mascara", goes further back into country's roots that most contemporary country does, and would have been at home on an early Loretta Lynn or Dolly Parton record. Lines like ""Thank God they make waterproof mascara/'Cause it won't run like his Daddy did," is much more akin to classic country from the 1960s-1980s then anything Nashville is producing now. Unlike "Crazy", "Easy," and "We Oughtta Be Drinkin'", Crow makes "Waterproof Mascara" her own, even though it's the biggest example of Crow turning in her pop-star cred for a cowboy hat and boots. She really gets into the emotional center of that song. "Waterproof Mascara" could easily have been just another caricature of a typical country song; as it stands, that song is one of the album's highlights.

Other times, though, she taps into some relatable, blue-collar cliches that come off as rather condescending. Unlike Bruce Springsteen, who could really nail the trials and tribulations of the working class and sound deeply authentic, when you hear Crow sing about being a poor, white trash country girl, you have a hard time believing that. These moments represent the album's biggest stumbling blocks. Sheryl Crow has always had an air of the cosmopolitan about her, which in the country market is closest akin to The Dixie Chicks. They ditched their original lead singer, drafted Natalie, renamed themselves The Dixie Chicks from the Dixie Chickens, and the rest is history. Their type of audience is much more likely to be coffee-house types than the deeply redneck, shot-gun toting stereotypical white trash. Likewise, Sheryl's music feels more at home on a high class café with a hundred different wines and cheeses than a country bar with the Confederate Flag on prominent display.

Despite the sometimes effected twang and occasional self-conscious "Look at Me, I'm doig Country!" song , "Feels Like Home" could just as have easily been a followup to "The Globe Sessions" or "C'Mon, C'Mon".

Crow has always had a lot of similarities with the country genre, even with her pop sensibilities. Unlike "100 Miles to Memphis" and its emphasis on soul, "Feels Like Home" never feels simply like a genre experiment. Too her immense credit, "Feels Like Home" sounds like a natural extension of who Sheryl is as an artist and only seldomly feels forced.
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Although Feels Like Home is Sheryl Crow's debut Country album, she's always had a strong country influence in her music, so the record isn't a dramatic leap into the unknown.

Recorded in Nashville, the album saw Crow work with a group of local songwriters, such as Chris DuBois, Luke Laird and Natalie Hemby as well as her long-time collaborator Jeff Trott.

One of the songs co-written by Trott, Easy (the lead off single in the US), is perhaps not surprisingly closest to Crow's previous commercial output. But elsewhere, the Nashville influence is much more pronounced. Waterproof Mascara treads a fine line between heartfelt and parody, and narrowly manages to come down on the side of heartfelt. Homecoming Queen and Stay At Home Mother are two more bittersweet tales, both performed with clarity and a lack of sentiment.

Elsewhere, We Oughta Be Drinkin could be All I Wanna Do Part 2, presenting the same characters viewpoint twenty years later. There's some more upbeat songs too, like Best of Times and Nobody's Business, which balance out the album somewhat.

Overall this a solid collection of songs which should appeal both to Crow's long term fans as well as country music lovers. Having been dropped by her former record label after the release of her last album in 2010 it will be interesting to see both how this album is received and how it influences her subsequent career.
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Has Sheryl Crow gone country or has country moved towards Sheryl Crow? I often think much of the modern country sounds a bit like Sheryl Crow of yesteryear and I don't think making a country album is a big jump for her because I always thought she sounded a bit country. This album perhaps sounds a bit more country than her earlier albums especially on tracks like Waterproof Mascara (that could have been sung by Lee Ann Womack or Tammy Wynette) or We Outa be Drinking or Homecoming Queen). Perhaps at times she tries a little too hard to sound country when she doesn't need to. One can sense the Miranda Lambert influence on some songs. The opening track Shotgun is a great way to open her album. Easy is perhaps the highlight. She is in really good voice. The songs are good and non need to be skipped over. The backing at times is more country than on previous albums but not by much. I don't think it sounds that much different from her earlier albums although perhaps none of these tracks will enjoy classic status of some of her hits. This is not that much of a departure for Crow (certainly not as much as Memphis was). Crow is a great singer and this is a good and enjoyable album. I don't think open minded fans of Crow will be diappointed. For those who have a wide taste in country or like quality music. Recommended.
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Although marketed in America as Sheryl Crow's first country album, I don't think of it as a country album per se. It has some country influences, especially in the use of musical instruments that are often found on bona fide country albums, and Sheryl has the kind of voice that would be ideally suited to sing country songs. However, while I really enjoy listening to this album, I still regard the music as pop. I've read suggestions that one of Sheryl's earlier albums Tuesday Night Music Club has a lot of similarities to this one. In that case, I'll probably buy and enjoy that album at some point, but my musical enjoyment is not limited to country music.

I don't have any particular favourite tracks, but I have played this album plenty of times since I bought it (far more than I usually do before writing a review) so as plenty of other people have already written a lot about this album, I'll simply endorse it as a high quality album and suggest that if you want to explore music by other artists who you might enjoy listening to, try Brad Paisley (one of Sheryl's new-found Nashville friends) or Miranda Lambert. Both of them in their way record great music that clearly has country influences, as this album does, but some of their albums sound more country than others. I consider myself to be a fan of both of those singers, irrespective of whether their music is really country or not.
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on 29 December 2013
I have all Sheryl's albims and one or two recently have not been as good as I had expected. This album sees her back to her best.
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on 13 February 2014
If the good people who have written reviews before me here had not told me that this was supposed to be a change of directs toward country I would not have known. It is a bit better than her last few albums but there has always been country leanings in her music so this is only a very minor shift. For musician like this these genre classification issues are entirely meaningless and considering them as if they are is pointless.
It is the first album since The Globe Sessions that I feel is worthwhile, C"mon C'mon was really bland and the other since, although there have been some decent songs in there, have seemed like she was just going through the motions. This is a much better effort taken as a whole album.
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VINE VOICEon 2 February 2014
Perfect relaxation album - chilling at home or speeding along the motorway - great sing-along lyrics, great voice, cool instrumentals... Bring it on Cheryl! More please...
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on 16 February 2014
As many others have pointed out here, this isn't really too much of a departure from her previous albums. A little bit more twang here and there but really no more country than previous albums.

What it is though is a modest return to form after several mediocre albums. the production is great, her voice is as sweet as ever and the songs have bit more oomph to them. Of course, you know what you are getting here, this is not an album that's going to change the world. But for driving along in the car and relaxing on a Sunday afternoon this will do just fine.
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on 13 October 2013
I've always been a Sheryl Crow fan & this is one of her best albums yet. Easy on the ear tunes that you just want to listen to over & over again.
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on 30 November 2013
This is album is great! Sheryl crow sounds as good as she ever did and this album is not one of those "sounds like somebody" albums...the only thing this souns like is sheryl crow and that's a really good thing.
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