On a plain old album, Sheryl Crow sounds like a pure rocker. With her driving guitar leading the way, her blazing vocals – which range from sultry and seductive to sarcastic – transform her music into pure energy. But on her latest album, Sheryl Crow and Friends – Live at Central Park (A&M Records), Crow takes the word `rock’ to a new level.
It’s the minor alterations to songs that make Crow a powerful live performer. The songs all sound like the studio originals, but new inflections add an intense emotional element. She also engages the audience in flirtatious conversations. She tempts the audience by referring to her friends that will join her on stage later in the performance, but asks them to be patient for little old me.
The album opens with Every Day is a Winding Road. The song immediately pulls you into the album with its beat that demands a bit of dancing. She then performs Greatest Mistake and Leaving Las Vegas solos before the Dixie Chicks join her on stage for Strong Enough. Crow’s raspy, sorrowful vocals blend easily with the twang of the country sensations. Strong Enough, one of Crow’s slower ballads, picks up steam with the addition of the Dixie Chicks.
The song that gave Crow her fame, All I Wanna Do, lacks nothing in this rendition. At times, the song sounds almost spoken instead of sung, but it doesn’t matter. When Crow says All I wanna do is have some fun, you believe her. And with the sounds coming from the audience during the performance – they’re having fun too.
Throughout the album, musical geniuses such as Chrissie Hyde, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Sarah McLachlan and Stevie Nicks perform with Crow. In each case, the sounds blend for a rock sensation, sparking life in a song that seemed sort of boring.
The album is like the old candy Pop Rocks. When you looked at the little granular candy in the palm of your hand it didn’t look like anything special – just some colored sugar. But, as soon as you popped the candy in your mouth, it was like fireworks going off on your tongue. On Crow’s album, hearing some of Crow’s songs on the radio, they don’t sound like anything too special. But, throw her on stage and add a few secret legendary weapons and you have a musical explosion, otherwise known as Sheryl Crow and Friends – Live at Central Park.