A few thoughts after seeing Sheryl Crow Friday at Mystic Lake Casino:

After living in Nashville for several years and flirting with country music, Crow will be releasing her first official country album, “Feels Like Home,” on Sept. 10 on Warner Bros Nashville.

A few signs on Friday suggested she’s ready to go country:

*She introduced her current country single, “Easy,” by saying it’s the stay-at-home response to hits by Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney and Alan Jackson that urge you to go to Mexico. Who knew she followed country music so closely? (See video below.)

* Her other new songs – “Shot Gun” (about where you ride in a vehicle, not firearms) and “Why Does He Always Gotta Be Calling Me When I’m Lonely” (great title) – sounded blatantly country. Yee-haw.

*There was plenty of pedal steel guitar in her music – and a bit of mandolin and accordion.

* The three guys in her band who stood out front were all wearing cowboy shirts.

*She kept sayin’ “y’all” with a twang that wasn’t her usual Missouri accent.

* She playfully tapped her butt when referring to her “equipment” during the country-ish tune “Real Gone” (from soundtrack to the movie “Cars”).

On the other hand, here are a few signs that suggested she’s not quite ready to go country:

*When it came time to play “Picture,” her one bona fide country hit, she sang a verse and a chorus and then when it came time for the Kid Rock part of the song, well, she segued into her own pop hit “If It Makes You Happy.” That made some fans unhappy. What a tease.

*She doesn’t sing assertively enough. But then she mostly sang mid-tempo tunes. Her reading of the Rolling Stones’ “Tumbling Dice” was strikingly lame, especially after she tore it up onstage with the Stones in Chicago last month on “All Down the Line.”

*She didn’t make much spontaneous small talk, except when she was introducing “Leaving Las Vegas.” “How many of you are gamblers?” Not much response. “This is a casino, right? How many of you are drinkers?” More applause. “How many of you are strippers?” Big applause. “I had no idea Prior Lake was so free.”

*Those vinyl jeans – in celadon green – aren’t very country.

*She never fussed with her luxurious long blonde locks like most country princesses do. Oh, maybe it’s because her hands were busy playing an instrument.

Two final thoughts:

*The highlight was “Strong Enough” with minimalist instrumentation, giving it a quiet strength.

* Crow will be back in town on Aug. 2 for Macy’s Glamorama, and don’t be surprised if she’s soon announced as a State Fair grandstand performer.

Photo by Leslie Plesser