NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE —
Last year, Sheryl Crow started a petition on Change.org to shorten the U.S. presidential election cycle. The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter said she was exhausted by the mudslinging and divisive language that had dominated the discussion about the candidates.
"I felt like it was becoming so hateful that I had to watch to make sure my kids didn't pick up the remote and turn the TV on,'' she said during a recent interview at her home in Nashville.
Crow said what upset her was how technology and social media had changed the conversation.
"Now we have this forum for haters to come out and say the worst thing you could possibly say to someone without having the experience of the reaction,'' she said. "We've learned to be a society without empathy and without compassion.''
The ways people connect, or fail to connect, became a central theme on her upcoming album, "Be Myself,'' to be released on April 21, which brings Crow back to her early roots as a rocker after brief stints exploring Country music and soul music on her last two records.
"The whole album is very informed by the atmosphere, which is very chaotic, very vitriolic, a lot of fear that was really in the ether while we were making this record,'' she said.
Crow listened to her early records, including her debut, "Tuesday Night Music Club,'' and "The Globe Sessions,'' and teamed up with Jeffrey Trott, her longtime songwriting partner and a multi-instrumentalist. She brought in Tchad Blake, a Grammy-winning engineer who worked with her in the late '90s.
"We wanted to make a really catchy record, but one that had some edge, some grit, in the same way that some of those early recordings had,'' Trott said.
Crow, who has often peppered her lyrics with political references, said the album helped her after Donald Trump won the presidential election.
"I started losing faith and not only for our country, but for the people that voted for him,'' Crow said.
As she sings on her first single, "Halfway There,'' Crow asks for cooperation and compromise as a solution to the discord.
"You may not be an environmentalist and I might be, but at the end of the day, don't we all want the same thing for our kids?'' she said. "We want a healthy future that is secure. And we have to figure out a way to communicate with reason and a modicum of decorum at least.''
As a mother of two children, ages 6 and 9, she favors an unplugged life as reflected in "Roller Skate,'' a nostalgic, toe-tapping song about ditching the phone for a good time.
"At the end of the day, you're missing out on life experiences if you're constantly checking in with anybody that's not in the room,'' Crow said.