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CD Reviews:  Sheryl Crow: C'mon, C'mon

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The professional career of Sheryl Crow has been played out perfectly. Her 1993 debut Tuesday Night Music Club burst onto the scene with chart and sales success that many record companies only dream about. She whipped the sophomore jinx by releasing another gleaming success in 1996 with Sheryl Crow, and then turned inward and created her deepest, most diverse body of work to date with 1998's Globe Sessions. She slapped the exclamation point on her smash decade by doing 1999's Live From Central Park greatest hits collection at the ideal point in her ideal career. So, now what?

C'mon, C'mon represents a four-year emotional struggle, a real labor of love, which Crow admits almost never came to fruition. After all, at age 40, this experienced and wildly successful road warrior has little left to prove. But in the end, she rounded up some of her closest musical allies and biggest names in the business to deliver what is likely to be her biggest commercial success yet. Weeks and even months before the recent release of C'mon, C'mon, the flawless marketing anthem "Soak Up The Sun," the album's first single, was being performed at halftime of the AFC Championship Game and bannered for American Express's latest TV ad campaign. What's more, the raw and stirring piano ballad "Safe and Sound" was a gut-wrenching part of the nationally televised America: A Tribute to Heroes project that followed the September 11th attacks. And you can bet next week's pay that the pumped up, radio-ready opening track "Steve McQueen," as well as the slick, mid-tempo heartbreaker "Diamond Road," will soon find their respective ways to VH-1's heavy rotation list.

As is the case with most Sheryl Crow records, however, the real lasting appeal of C'mon, C'mon is not in the chart-topping hits so much as buried in the hidden gems. The classic rock riffs and grinding pace of "You're an Original," which swaps vocals with Lenny Kravitz, recalls Led Zeppelin's "Dancing Days." Another sonic rocker, "Lucky Kid," thunders along with searing electric guitars and even some techno drum loops for special effect. Squeezed right in the middle of the record is the title track, an earnestly beautiful bruiser ballad that pleads, "C'mon, c'mon, c'mon, break my heart again…for old time's sake." Unfortunately, Crow's pen is not always as sharp this time out, and even flirts with the ridiculous when on "Soak Up The Sun" she whines, "I've got a crummy job, it don't pay near enough," just after announcing, "I don't have digital, I don't have diddly squat." Somehow, I just don't feel her welfare pain.

C'mon, C'mon may not reap the adorning praise of the most critical press, nor will it stand as Sheryl Crow's most defining work. It does, however, provide an instant car radio buzz, a nice mix for the top-down summer months. Like Def Leppard's Pyromania or The Outfield's Play Deep from our 1980s youth, sometimes the critics don't have to approve in order for us to have a brainless good time!

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