Sheryl Crow is returning with Detours, her first album since beating breast cancer, splitting up with fiance Lance Armstrong and adopting a baby son.
It sees the singer, who has won nine Grammy Awards, tackling political and environmental issues such as the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina and oil supplies.
A lot has happened to you in the last couple of years - how have those personal experiences informed and influenced this album?
Sheryl Crow had surgery for breast cancer in February 2006
My life really shifted in a huge way when I was diagnosed, but even more so in conjunction with having a very public split.
All that culminating at the same time really required that I revisit who I had become.
I think that's what these detours in our lives do. They take us on journeys that somehow lead us far away from what our original path was, or who we set out to be, and dictate that we come back and remember who we are.
And that is really happening on a grand scale also in this country. In the last seven years, we've become a completely different nation and we're now realising we're having to address some of the damage that's been done.
Was the writing a form of therapy when you were going through the cancer treatment?
I didn't do any writing when I was going through the whole experience. I really tried to just be in the experience and not run to my guitar or computer to try to distract me.
Being productive is one of the things that kinda led me to getting sick in the first place
That was a big lesson for me, to really feel the emotions and work through them as opposed to making myself productive.
Because being productive I think is one of the things that kinda led me to getting sick in the first place, just overworking and constantly being productive.
Are you officially cancer-free now?
As far as I know. I've got one more year before I'm really out of the woods, but yes, I think I'm doing good.
Did that make you take stock of how important some of the political and environmental issues were?
I was really involved in environmental issues for a long time. When [son] Wyatt came along, the environment became a really pressing issue. When you really think about what kind of planet we're leaving for our kids, it's dire and becomes very urgent.
Detours is Crow's sixth studio album
This record allowed me to step back and write about the things that were urgent to me, seeing how we've all changed through the last seven years.
We've learnt to distract ourselves from what's really going on, we've gone to sleep and a lot of the negative that's happened in the last seven years has happened on our watch. But I'm seeing a real shift, and that makes me excited.
Can music change the world?
I love the idea. I'm not sure it can change the world but I certainly think it can resonate in people and start to wake up the molecules, just like Dylan did in the 60s. He became a spokesperson for what people were collectively feeling.
It bound people together, it gave them a common voice. I don't know if we're moving towards that. I'm hoping that as we wake up, then music will begin to matter again and be valued.
I am really enjoying the idea that it's possible to have an inspired leader again, and I hear that mostly from Obama
Who would you vote for out of the current crop of US presidential candidates?
I haven't really settled on a candidate, but I am really enjoying the idea that it's possible to have an inspired leader again, and I hear that mostly from Obama. The fact that he's really starting to incite some hope in people is promising.
Have you ever considered getting involved in politics?
Hell no. No way. I can serve my country better by being a musician.
Would you say you're optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
I'm very, very optimistic. I'm hoping when people hear this record they'll feel a sense of hope in the lyrics, even though it can sound kind of apocalyptic at times.
I'm hoping people will feel the sense of hope that I feel, that we do have an opportunity here if we can just pull ourselves out of this sleep state and really start to mobilise and create change, start creating our own future.
Detours by Sheryl Crow is released in the US on 5 February and the UK on 18 February. The musician talked to BBC News entertainment reporter Ian Youngs.