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Cashmere Cat - Princess Catgirl Music Album Reviews

The Norwegian producer invents a Vocaloid-inspired feline character and retreats from the spotlit pop of his last album, returning to the introspective hush of his earlier work.
After all these years, Cashmere Cat is still shy. The musician born Magnus August Høiberg has nearly a decade of prismatic productions under his belt, which has led to appearances on the big stages at EDM festivals, collaborations with childhood heroes, and studio time with the biggest pop stars in the world. On some level, Høiberg has had to adjust to the practicalities that this success requires. He once wouldn’t even do in-person interviews, but a few years ago he finally decided to open up about his life story in a music video. One would imagine he’s no longer hiding in a bathroom, as a friend of his once described, when DJ Khaled unexpectedly turns up at the studio.

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Sheryl Crow - Threads Music Album Reviews

The superstar’s eleventh studio album pairs her with famous friends ranging from Stevie Nicks to St. Vincent.

Sheryl Crow’s first two albums were to ’90s kids what Anita Baker’s Rapture and Paul Simon’s Graceland were to their siblings a decade earlier: minivan mainstays blasted by parents aging out of their misspent youth. Raucous within limits, sardonic without blurring into cruelty, Tuesday Night Music Club (1993) and Sheryl Crow (1996) buried sly experimental touches and an encyclopedia’s worth of classic rock knowledge under a radio-ready sheen thick enough to survive heavy rotation. Sheryl Crow, her first self-produced album, threw together Wurlitzers and Neil Finn, Penny-Owsley pianos and the Attractions’ Pete Thomas—it was all good to Crow, master of ecumenical mom rock.


In other words, Sheryl Crow has always gotten by with a little help from her famous friends; she once billed a live album Sheryl Crow and Friends. On her eleventh studio album Threads, she summons another phalanx of luminaries, the lot of them pledging their troth to the SoCal ideal, the ’60s’ most persistent legacy. Inspired and incongruous juxtapositions abound. Stevie Nicks and Maren Morris? Right on. But Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples? What about Crow and—get this—St. Vincent? Years with little to prove have muffled Crow’s ear for cool new sounds, hence the preponderance of songs with chords and lyrics generic enough to support, well, Maren Morris and Stevie Nicks. Nonetheless, Threads makes an admirable case for the continued survival of “L.A” as synecdoche and pension plan.

The remakes comprise the album’s least compelling section. Thumbs up for choosing relative Boomer obscurities like George Harrison’s “Beware of Darkness” and Bob Dylan’s “Everything Is Broken.” But “Darkness” is little more than an excuse for an extended jam session with Eric Clapton, Brandi Carlisle, and Sting, and Jason Isbell sounds like an aide escorted him to a mic at knifepoint on “Everything Is Broken.” A bigger problem is that Crow is incapable of projecting unease. Accepting romantic entanglements with a quip—that’s the Sheryl we love, the songwriter who flashes the line “you’re my favorite mistake” like an épée. The wry Keith Richards-sung Stones number “The Worst” and Kris Kristofferson’s ramblin’ anthem “Border Lord” are better fits.

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News alerts on Crow’s smartphone inspire the most atypical collaborations. A gesture of noblesse oblige called “The Story of Everything” depicts a world where “troubled souls” walk into churches and “gun everyone down” while Chuck D and Andra Day huff and puff over Gary Clark Jr.’s axmanship and a clattering rhythm track. The not-funk complements the determination to avoid offense. Better is “Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You,” about a topic she has insight into: moneygrubbers. Apparently St. Vincent in 2019 is Eurythmics’ David Stewart in 1985: superproducer for stars who want a dollop of her coolness and just enough of her discreetly mad studio modernizations. Nevertheless, the track works. St. Vincent and longtime Crow collaborator Jeff Trott trade increasingly scabrous licks over a more convincing Crow rap than Chuck D’s.

Besotted with harmony as an end in itself, Crow wheedles animated performances from Vince Gill (“For the Sake of Our Love”) and James Taylor (“Flying Blind”). If they need material for their own albums, I hope they keep her contact info. Same goes for Joe Walsh, briefly recapturing the careening essence of the James Gang on the on-the-nose “Still the Good Old Days”—why wasn’t he paired with St. Vincent? Threads’ most poignant moment demonstrates what imagination and thousands of dollars of craft can accomplish. A series of renunciations spun as affirmations, “Don’t” presents Crow at her piano, still chewing on the bite-sized ironies of “My Favorite Mistake.” Lucius’ backup vocals shadow her, seizing the title by turns desperately and threateningly. She’s together and alone, as much a truth for insiders as the rest of us.


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