Friday, December 8, 2023
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Sheryl Review

Sheryl Crow is a name synonymous with quality and an inspiration to those who believe country and pop should crash into one another. Like a David Cronenberg splice, those two genres were mixed well for Crow, who managed to maintain consistency where there should only be Mumford and Sons. Still, for those wanting to learn more of her life and work beyond that of mixing two genres together and making a boatload of money off of it, Sheryl has them covered. Showtime has fired out documentary after documentary with relative success, pulling the quality out and putting it right at the forefront. Crow is of course more than a country star; she is a wide-ranging artist who can cover and create in a wonderful array of genres. That much is shown in Sheryl.  

Her red, white and blue style may not have left a mark overseas, but when a country has more than triple the population of the UK, there is no need to head anywhere else. Testifying to the great acclaim Crow rightly received, Sheryl manages a solid blend of archival footage, gig-going bits and interviews with those who have no connection with Crow. Laura Dern is always a quality draw, but why director Amy Scott needs her here is never quite explained. A familiar face before dropping the horrors of The Eagles and their nonchalant absence for quality, presumably. Crow is thankfully the focus, these extra bits from Keith Richards and Joe Walsh are just that. Extra. A little surplus to requirement as the twee piano notes shine a light on the early life of a successful singer. 

For some reason or other, Sheryl does not begin by defining the immediate creativity nor does it set much of a scene. It glosses over a lengthy past to focus in on some product placement for McDonald’s, which is dropped in intermittently and strangely so. Scott, who adds a second feature to her films documenting creatives that are just a one-word title, has a fast-cut style that makes it difficult to truly focus on taking in any of the information on display. It certainly creates for a visually punctual movie, popping and thriving where it would usually take a flat approach, but it does detract from the information on offer. Still, that pacing does have its positives. It means Scott can rattle through everything Crow hopes to explain, and that she does. 

Sheryl is a bit spotty in places but the bulk of the documentary steers itself toward the fundamentals of what the genre should offer. Viewers who have never heard a second of her music, all the way down to those that have the oddities and rarities tattooed onto their arms, will get something from this. How much of it will stick afterwards is beside the point. Sheryl is a decent watch and a decently made documentary, one that sticks its neck out for one of the legends of the industry that got their start through happenstance and chance, and remained there with absolute and respectable quality as a creative and entertainer.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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