Review: Sheryl Crow Makes a Striking Return with ‘Evolution’

Videos by American Songwriter

(Valory Music Co.)
3 1/2 out of 5 stars

The unexpected appearance of a new Sheryl Crow album in 2024, after her decisive statement that Threads (2019) would be her final one, comes as a triumphant surprise to her dedicated fans. Those who suspected there was plenty of gas left in her tank will rejoice that she has returned to the studio for another full-length outing, her 11th.

This 10-song collection eschews the high-wattage collaborations prevalent on her previous release. Peter Gabriel is the only major guest star here, singing backup on his “Digging in the Dirt,” the disc’s lone cover. Rather, Crow returns to basics, crafting sharp sing-along pop-rock that defined some of her more memorable hits with a small but talented combo. 

The opening “Alarm Clock” kicks off the festivities with a catchy glam-influenced guitar lick before going Bangles-style power-pop. The instantly hummable chorus makes it a certainty for a future greatest hits compilation.

Anger sucks but at least your brand’s trending / Dude, you must get tired, she sings on the jaunty “Broken Record,” which touches on the current socio-political divide with uplifting, even cheery, music partially obscuring biting lyrics. 

The chugging melody and chirping vocals of “Do It Again” (not the Steely Dan song) also recall some of Crow’s best-loved hits. Here she admits with a self-deprecating attitude that, Well, every day’s a nice, clean slate / For me to fuck it up again

The mood turns serious for the title track, which expresses concerns about AI (without mentioning it).  Strings and a widescreen sonic approach make this one of her most epic productions. Elsewhere, she gets introspective and personal on sparkling ballads such as “You Can’t Change the Weather” and “Where.” 

As producer, multi-instrumentalist Mike Elizondo plays on every track and co-pens some, too. But this is Crow’s show. It’s a striking return to form, proving the nine-time Grammy-winner and recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee has lots more to say.   

Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for The Environmental Media Association

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