I’ll admit it: for the longest time, I was completely sheltered from any music that wasn’t country — both out of retaliation to peers who claimed to hate country (although I bet they owned every Alan Jackson album), and out of a reluctance to seek anything outside my microscopic comfort zone. (I’m getting better at that.) As a result, I could tell you virtually nothing about Sheryl Crow. Nothing about “All I Wanna Do”, “Strong Enough”, not even “Soak Up the Sun.” But I can tell you that, from the few cuts she’s sent to country radio, I can totally buy her as a country singer. (Especially when she helped out Kid Rock on “Picture.”) And “Easy” is yet another argument in her favor.
Nothing is especially interesting about the production, particularly not the heavy-handed guitar solo which makes me think that Dann Huff momentarily commandeered the producer’s chair. But at the same time, Crow’s clear-voiced delivery finds her quite comfortable in a modern country setting. Lyrics like “We’ll play Jack Johnson, he’s the new Don Ho / And we’ll go surfing, surfing, we’ll surf the radio” are surprisingly clever, yet identifiable odes to the song’s overall theme of a staycation with the one you love. The song is a smooth listen, but executed strongly enough to be more than just ear candy.
Crow’s previous forays into country have been fairly modest. Of her six country chart entries, only one (a #35 cover of Cat Stevens’ oft-recorded “The First Cut is the Deepest”) was not a duet or backing vocal for another artist. Furthermore, she’s 51 as I write this, and radio is generally not forgiving to quote-unquote “older” artists. “Easy” may or may not be the beginning of a new chapter in the career of a seasoned veteran. But at the very least, I bet that it’ll be the song that finally shows that Sheryl is every bit a country artist herself as she is when helping someone else.