By Gary Graff
Sheryl Crow is still full speed ahead in promoting her latest album, Be Myself, after its April release. But she's also continuing work on a guest-filled album that's been in motion for a while, and which she hopes to have out during 2018.
"It's not really duets; It's just highly collaborative," Crow tells Billboard about the in-motion LP, which includes Crow collaborations with Keith Richards, Willie Nelson, Stevie Nicks, Don Henley (for whom she sang backup during the 80s), Joe Walsh, Vince Gill and more. "I've just called on a bunch of people I've known forever who I'm friends with, and who I've sung with one way or another throughout the years, but I've never asked them to come sing with me. I've been working on it for a couple of years, and eventually I will finish it and it will be out."
In fact, Crow predicts she's "probably one thing away" from having what she would consider a complete set, but adds that, "It could come out now and it would be fine. But there's not any hurry. I'm still working on it and really enjoying it. So I imagine it will be out early next year."
The most important part of the project, according to Crow, is that her guests are actually joining her in the studio during the sessions. "It's just unusual that you get that kind of opportunity where it's not just, 'Here, let's just email the track' and not get a chance to work on it together," she explains. "I got to go to New York and hang out in the studio for two days with Keith Richards. Who lives like that? I am the luckiest person I can think of in the whole wide world. I am never not humbled by it. I just feel so lucky, an to have been embraced by these people in the early days of my career and be able to ask them to come play as we get older is a real treat."
Crow is performing sporadically through the summer, mixing her own shows with dates on Willie Nelson's Outlaw Music Festival -- where she joined Nelson to close his set, and welcomed Nelson's son Lukas on stage to play the Allman Brothers Band's "Midnight Rider" with her in Detroit. Crow will also be part of Farm Aid on Sept. 16 in Burgettstown, Pa., and play on Oct. 1 at the Laid Back Festival in Morrison, Colo.
All of these dates are in continued support of Be Myself, her return to rock after going country with 2013's Feels Like Home. "It has the sound that we were famous for, so I guess it feels familiar and that's great for me. I don't mind that at all," Crow says of Be Myself, which debuted at No. 3 on Billboard's Top Rock Albums chart. "I think there's something kind of comforting with familiarity right now, while everything's so foreign."
That attitude may be guiding her future writing as well. "I will tell you that for me, as an artist, I can't think of a more compelling time to be writing music," Crow explains. "To me it feels urgent and important and mission-like, and there was so much hanging in the air to write about that it was a very fast process, and a very inspired process. And not at all like a job."