HITS Daily Double


When BLMG chief Scott Borchetta heard that Sheryl Crow was cutting what she expected to be her final album, he jumped at the chance to sign the veteran free agent. Crow’s project, which would be composed of duets with rock and country artists, coincided with Borchetta’s wide-ranging taste, as reflected in the company’s roster, which includes national treasure Cheap Trick and young breakout band Badflower (on Big Machine/John Varvatos Records) as well as rock-infused country band Midland.

Threads, dropping 8/30, contains 17 tracks and two-dozen vocal partners, from Joe Walsh to Chuck D (!) and Emmylou Harris to St. Vincent, and everyone involved sounds right at home, despite the fact that the majority of the guest vocals cut elsewhere and deftly woven into the fabric of this remarkably cohesive LP by producer/drummer Steve Jordan (Keith Richards, Boz Scaggs). Crow’s wrote or co-wrote all but four songs, she’s never been more commanding or nuanced as a vocalist, and you can sense the respect she’s accorded from peers and cutting-edge younger artists alike. Is there another artist capable of wrangling an all-star cast this wide-ranging and high-profile?

Big Machine has made seven songs available head of Threads’ release, and three of them are immediate grabbers. The churning groove and guitar flares, “Tell Me When It’s Over,” with Chris Stapleton, bring to mind Heart Like a Wheel-era Linda Ronstadt. The sultry swamp rocker “Live Wire” teams Crow with Mavis Staples and Bonnie Raitt, who spins out one of her signature gilded slide-guitar solos. And Jason Isbell’s blistering guitar runs power their cover of Dylan’s “Everything Is Broken” (from 1989’s Oh Mercy), as the partners transform the song into a protest anthem for these troubled times.

“It takes a lot of time and money and energy to create a fully artistic statement with a beginning, a middle and end,” Crow said of the thinking behind her decision to forgo further album projects in a recent interview with NPR. “And, you know, you hope you have a song that lands on a playlist somewhere. People just don’t listen to albums anymore. So I feel like this is a good one to go out on. And in the future, when I write something I feel like needs to be put out, we’ll just put it out. We won’t wait to make a whole album.”

She’s leaving the longplayer arena with a substantial body of work, including lesser-known gems like 2010’s Doyle Bramhall II-co-produced 100 Miles From Memphis (her final A&M release) as well as her ’90s classics. Crow has long been a favorite of Grammy voters, and Threads appears to be a cinch to get nominated in one of more of the Roots/Americana categories. Could it be a sleeper for an Album of the Year nom?

Track listing:
1 Prove You Wrong (f/Stevie Nicks, Maren Morris)
2 Live Wire (f/Bonnie Raitt, Mavis Staples)
3 Tell Me When It’s Over (f/Chris Stapleton)
4 Story of Everything (f/Chuck D, Andra Day, Gary Clark Jr.)
5 Beware of Darkness (f/Eric Clapton, Sting, Brandi Carlile)
6 Redemption Day (f/Johnny Cash)
7 Cross Creek Road (f/Lukas Nelson)
8 Everything Is Broken (f/Jason Isbell)
9 The Worst (f/Keith Richards)
10 Lonely Alone (f/Willie Nelson)
11 Border Lord (f/Kris Kristofferson)
12 Still the Good Old Days (f/Joe Walsh)
13 Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You (f/St. Vincent)
14 Don’t (f/Lucius)
15 Nobody’s Perfect (f/Emmylou Harris)
16 Flying Blind (f/James Taylor)
17 For the Sake of Love (f/Vince Gill)