Crow delivers perfect folksy bluegrass

She previews a new song off an unnamed and yet-to-be released album during O.C. Fair show.

July 26, 2012|By Heather Youmans
(Heather Youmans )

Nine-time Grammy winner Sheryl Crow performed at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa Wednesday evening, treating a near-sold out crowd to 80 minutes in folk-rock heaven.

Opening act Honey Honey — a cross between KT Tunstall, the Civil Wars, and Mumford and Sons — set the tone with their bluegrass-inspired tunes.

Crow performed with feeling and vitality.

She sang beautiful and moving renditions of all the favorites: "All I Wanna Do," "Leaving Las Vegas," "My Favorite Mistake," "The First Cut is the Deepest," a cover of Cat Stevens's song, "Strong Enough," "Soak up the Sun," "Everyday Is A Winding Road," "Can't Cry Anymore" and "Real Gone," which is featured on the "Cars" soundtrack.

Later in the evening, she brought out longtime friend and Southern California-based songwriter Jeff Trott, who joined her on guitar for "If It Makes You Happy," one of the many hits they wrote together.

Occasionally, Crow threw in a few obscure pieces like "Home" and "Members Only," which she wrote about Saddam Hussein launching missiles at New York, according to an earlier performance.


Also included was "Best of Times," about the supposed end of the world in December, off her soon-to-be-released and yet-to-be-named album.

"God knows when it's gonna come out," Crow said. "I am gonna wrestle that mother to the floor and then I'm going to get a record deal."

The tune was undeniably rooted in bluegrass and acoustic folk music. Her Motown influences, such as the Jackson Five, Al Green, Sly and the Family Stone, and Stevie Wonder, were also apparent in the writing.

The latter is no surprise considering Crow first reached the spotlight as a back-up singer with Michael Jackson.

But after Crow played the new song in between two hits, it was obvious the writing could not measure up to the memorable melodies found in her best-sellers.

Through it all, Crow maintained her signature sound. Her voice was surprisingly agile for a singer-songwriter, usually known for enigmatic, pleasantly imperfect voices, but not necessarily for technique. Although Crow's vocals tend to be laid-back, she chose her powerful, bluesy moments wisely.

Those few impressive, gritty licks showcased the ping in her upper register. However, a good portion of her songs rested in the lower register, which was muddy sounding in the monitors, while the harmonica playing was piercing.

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