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100 miles away from home

Sheryl Crow: My heart was in a place of wanting to just be emotional and be in a place of vulnerability

NEW YORK (AP) — Although working from home is convenient, sometimes it pays to go to the office.

That’s what Sheryl Crow discovered when she jettisoned her Nashville home studio for a Los Angeles one to record her latest album, 100 Miles From Memphis. The L.A. location led a few famous friends to stop by, including Justin Timberlake.

“I dragged him into the studio and said, ‘I want you to hear something,’” she recalled. She played him her cover of Terence Trent D’Arby’s Sign Your Name, redone with a Memphis sound.

“He looked at me and said, ‘You know, I’m from Memphis... I’ve got the backgrounds on this.’ And he came in and he sang on this,” she said. “That sort of thing doesn’t happen when you’re working from home.”

The album also has other guests, including Keith Richards and Citizen Cope. But the star of the album is the sound of Memphis, a mix of rock, soul and country that influenced the 48-year-old when she grew up in Kennett, Missouri, which, as the title of her album says, is about 100 miles away.

Your last album, Detours, delved into politics and personal hardship. Did you intentionally plan a lighter record with Memphis?

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“Your life always influences your art or informs your art, and the last record, I felt a real sense of urgency about that record, about the themes on that record. ... I have two kids now, and although I’m deeply invested emotionally in what’s going on politically, what’s going on in this country, what’s going on environmentally, I think my heart was in a place of wanting to just be emotional and be in a place of vulnerability and write songs from a place of desire, and that’s already historically what R&B music is about anyway.”

You have said that the market wasn’t interested in your last album because of the serious themes. Does that ever frustrate you?

“I don’t feel stifled because I’m going to make the kind of record that I want to make just because it is an extension of who I am. It would be difficult to put parameters on that... I still believe in that record. I believe in the Detours record and I believe it will have longevity. It will definitely be a snapshot of the time we were living in. But I would have made that record no matter what. And this record is necessary because of where I am now.

You recently adopted a second child. How has life changed?

Having one is like having one, having two is like having 20. But like I said, it’s double the love. It just gets bigger and bigger. My son is really loving having a little brother. He feels like he came into our lives for him, which is the way I want him to feel. It’s only changing insofar as when you’re on tour; obviously, it’s about creating a home on a tour bus. Wyatt is very adapted to that, and Levi is just a baby. He doesn’t know anything different.

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