November 1998

Sheryl Crow - The Globe Sessions
A&M Records 31454 0959 2
Released: 1998

by Doug Schneider

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

[Reviewed on CD]I'll be the first to admit that when Tuesday Night Music Club was released, I was not at all sold on Sheryl Crow. Perhaps the overplayed and somewhat tuneless "All I Want To Do" contributed to this lackluster first impression. Tuesday Night Music Club was a mixed bag -- some good songs, a couple bad, and too many that were decidedly so-so. "Leaving Las Vegas" is a track that I really enjoyed, as well as a couple others, but they were too few and far between. In the end, Tuesday Night proved to be not all that original or that musically satisfying.

Crow’s next disc, the self-titled Sheryl Crow, made me a believer, more or less. While that release did not receive near the airplay of the first, it was by far the better musical outing. The difference? It was full of infectious guitar riffs and catchy tunes that it were many times more listenable than those on Crow’s debut disc. Listening to it reminded me of a good LP from the ‘70s -- perhaps that was the goal. It quickly became my favorite drive-time CD.

Now we have The Globe Sessions, which sounds in parts conspicuously just like Crow’s last release, but with some moments that recall the first album. The best of both worlds? Not quite. The Globe Sessions tries hard -- perhaps a little too hard. Unfortunately, The Globe Sessions does not have quite the musicality of Sheryl Crow, swinging a little too far over to Tuesday Night territory (perhaps a good thing for fans of that disc). The first two tracks, "My Favorite Mistake" and "There Goes The Neighborhood," are throwaways -- somewhat tuneful, but with a little too much of that Tuesday Night sound (I have no doubt that they'll both find ample video time). However, by the third track, "Riverwide," things kick into a more solid groove. This is a haunting gem of a tune with some great guitar sound that's the equal of anything on Sheryl Crow. The rest of the disc is full of arena-ready rockers with a few light moments thrown in -- mostly winners, a couple of clunkers, but always listenable.

The CD comes with multimedia features, including a QuickTime video of "My Favorite Mistake" for those who like to watch pint-sized, jerky video with bad sound on their computers. There is also a screen saver that I installed lickety-split. Watching snippets of Sheryl Crow move on my screen is definitely more attractive than anything my operating system provides. Also included are graphic images of song titles with their respective lyrics. This feature managed to generate enough run-time errors on my laptop computer that I never gained a full appreciation for it. I did not see enough purpose in trying to diagnose these problems because the results seemed somewhat trivial. Perhaps lyrics are better left in the print format. Finally, there is link to Crow’s website for those too lazy to type a URL into their web browsers.

Recording quality is decent with very good clarity, detail and instrument separation. But, like many popular CDs, The Globe Sessions seems mixed with the intent that it sound good on a variety of low-end sources like car stereos, boom boxes and portable headphones. It's true, it does sound good there where lifelike dynamics and musical nuances don't exist. However, back in the high-end world, it sounds a bit too bright, thin, and constrained -- no real surprise since many discs commit the same sins.

Taken as a whole, The Globe Sessions is a decent buy (although if you don't already own Sheryl Crow, buy that instead). Of course, for Crow fans this disc will be a necessity. While it does not reach quite as high a mark as Crow’s previous album, it's still worth owning, and there is always hope that something even better will head our way in a future release.