See Sheryl Crow Perform New Song on 'NCIS: New Orleans'

Roots-rock songwriter, who will release her new album 'Be Myself' this week, cameos at a garden party where a murder is committed

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See Sheryl Crow Perform New Song on 'NCIS: New Orleans'
Sheryl Crow performs two songs in a new episode of CBS's 'NCIS: New Orleans.'

While procedural crime-drama and music may not seem to go hand-in-hand, in three seasons on CBS the latest series in the NCIS franchise, NCIS: New Orleans, has increasingly made full use of the Crescent City's rich musical heritage, solving complex cases while incorporating live performances by artists from Maren Morris to Dr. John. 

On Tuesday night, Sheryl Crow makes her NCIS: New Orleans debut, where she and her band are seen performing at an outdoor fundraiser that takes a shocking turn when NCIS agents, including Scott Bakula's Dwayne Pride, make a gruesome discovery. The episode marks the debut of Crow's "Halfway There" from her upcoming LP Be Myself, which returns her to the realm of sun-splashed pop after the 2013 country album Feels Like Home. (Watch a clip of Crow from the episode below.)

Released this Friday, April 21st, Be Myself reunites Crow with producer-musician Jeff Trott and rocks with the same loose exuberance of her early albums, especially 1993's Tuesday Night Music Club and the self-titled 1996 follow-up.

"My intent wasn't to remake those early records but I definitely was kind of deliberate about going back and listening to them to kind of rediscover the spirit of that process," Crow tells Rolling Stone Country. "The first record was successful, so when we got in to make the second record, we thought, 'Ok, let's just go in and have a great time and make music that we love and not think about anything else.' And that's really what this record's process was like. It was super easy and quick and there was a lot to write. Jeff and I felt like we kids in a laboratory mixing up concoctions, and before we knew it, we had a record. And it really did speak to what we were feeling and thinking."

The singer-songwriter's return to New Orleans was sort of a full-circle moment, given that the Sheryl Crow LP, which featured the massive hits "Everyday Is a Winding Road" and "If It Makes You Happy," was recorded at the legendary Kingsway Studios in the heart of the French Quarter.

"Every time I ride into that town, I'm always asking the driver, 'So, what's it like now? Is the Ninth Ward back?" Crow says. "We've kind of been there periodically through the years since we made that record, so I have a special affinity for that town and for the people there."

Crow also performs a snippet of the pulsing rocker "Roller Skate," which the mother of two young sons admits was inspired by their bid for her attention. "It's my worst nightmare to have my kids say, 'Mom, put your phone away.' So, I don't have my phone on me that often. It's just the idea that we're living in an age now where we have this apparatus at all times connected to our fingertips."

The most striking lyrics on the album, cryptic as they may be, are found in "Heartbeat Away," a menacing tune with all the intrigue of a Tom Clancy novel, featuring a shady character named Leonard, hackers, a "man with the red face with his finger on the button," not to mention the lines: "You bet the president is sweating while Russia's blowing up the phone / Deny, deny everything but still let's throw that rabid dog a bone."

"That was such a weird thing," Crow says of writing the song. "Trump hadn't gotten the nomination yet. Jeff and I and this wonderful drum programmer, Andrew Petroff, we were jamming and the first verse came out then the third verse came out and we were like, 'This is a really strange lyric. Ok, what could make this deliberately espionage? Russia. And here we are with Russia and the hacking. It was kind of prescient."

Although making her previous album, Feels Like Home, was an experience she enjoyed, Crow was less enthusiastic about the promotional aspects of country-radio. "I loved making the record," she notes. "It was exactly the experience that I wanted to have. I wanted to write with some of the great songwriters in Nashville, which I got the great opportunity to do. I was, and still am, really proud of that record. I feel like there's some great lyric writing on it. It's a whole different world, the country world, and it really does require full dedication to being on the road and going from radio station to radio station, which is great and kind of old-school, but at the same time it was hard for me because I have little kids. But that's no reflection of the music or the people. That's just part of it."

Crow will spend much of this summer with one of her country-music idols as part of Willie Nelson's Outlaw Music Festival Tour, which kicks off, appropriately, in New Orleans on July 1st, with the Avett Brothers and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real. "That is straight-up sheer joy for me," she enthuses. "[Willie] has enhanced my life in so many ways, he and his wife and kids."

NCIS: New Orleans, featuring Sheryl Crow and band, airs tonight at 10:00 p.m. ET on CBS.