In the weeks leading up to its release, Feels Like Home was hailed throughout the music press as Sheryl Crow's first bona fide country album. But while it was indeed recorded in Music City, U.S.A., with songwriting input from Brad Paisley no less, it doesn't sound too terribly different from her previous efforts. After all, as fellow Napster scribe Chuck Eddy has previously pointed out, 21st-century Nashville cranks out the very brand of twangy, classic rock-inspired radio pop that's been Crow's bread and butter since Tuesday Night Music Club zipped to the top of the charts 20 years ago.
In fact, one could argue that, in terms of influencing the sound of modern country music, Crow ranks right up there with the Eagles, John Mellencamp and Tom Petty. Revisit some of her older hits and this becomes obvious. Both the soulful "My Favorite Mistake" and pedal steel-laced "If It Makes You Happy" (recorded all the way back in 1998 and '96, respectively) possess a kind of smoldering sass that presaged everybody from Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves to The Band Perry and Little Big Town. Hell, even a straight-up pop anthem like "Soak Up the Sun" echoes the "beach country" movement epitomized by the likes of Zac Brown Band and Florida Georgia Line. So maybe Crow always was country, and it just took the rest of us two decades to realize it.