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Crow’s Wildflower blooms

Sheryl Crow’s career has been decorated with multi-platinum records, hit singles and quite a few awards. Wildflower marks the songstress’ fifth studio album, and rather than try weird experimental productions to attract attention, she opts for a simple, melodic collection of well-written pop tracks.

Sticking to her trademark, Crow crafts songs with an emotional core that boast choruses too catchy to ignore. Tracks like “Perfect Lie” and “Chances Are” illustrate her ability to paint a painful picture of love on the rocks, while on “Letters to God” and “Always on Your Side,” Crow takes a more optimistic approach toward love and relationships, giving the listener a glimpse of the sunnier side.

On the single, “Good Is Good,” she warns about not letting special times pass by: “And every time you hear the rolling thunder / You turn around before the lightning strikes / And does it ever make you stop and wonder / If all your good times pass you by.”

More than a decade earlier, Crow assaulted the pop landscape with Tuesday Night Music Club, which won her multiple Grammy awards and a legion of fans. The album spawned pop hits such as “Strong Enough,” “Can’t Cry Anymore” and her biggest hit to date, “All I Wanna Do.” After riding the tidal wave of success following the album’s release, former music partner Bill Bottrell came forward claiming that he had been responsible for the majority of the songwriting and that Crow was no more than eye candy.

Critics and naysayers were silenced when her self-titled album Sheryl Crow was released in 1996, for which she had written and co-produced every track. The album went on to win Best Rock Album and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance (for “If It Makes You Happy”) at the Grammys. “Everyday Is a Winding Road,” “Home” and “A Change (Would Do You Good)” also invaded radio waves in ’96, pushing sales of the album to more than three-million copies.

Crow’s next two records were polar opposites: The Globe Sessions was a dark confessional LP while C’mon, C’mon was light, fun and unapologetically cheesy. The opening singles for the pair are evidence enough as “My Favorite Mistake” was about a cheating lover, but “Soak Up the Sun” was about relishing the moment.

Wildflower has the distinction of being Crow’s most accomplished work yet. The lyrics are raw but universal, and while Crow doesn’t ever drastically change her sound between records, the subtle differences keep the material sounding fresh. No overbearing beats, no unnecessary guest musicians and solid instrumentation make Wildflower a treat for listeners wishing to escape the dreary rap- and pop-infested world of mainstream radio.