After a mildly successful 5th album, a much-publicized breakup with cyclist Lance Armstrong, a continued foray into political activism, and for that third thing, it's no surprise that Sheryl Crow's 6th album, 'Detours' makes it rousing entrance on politics' 'Super Tuesday.' And it's also quite befitting that the first 2:09 be a biting commentary about the Iraq war. Throw in her take on post-Katrina in 'Love Is Free' and bemoaning about the climate crisis in the oh-so aptly titled 'Gasoline,' you get the feeling that she's going Bruce Springsteen on all of us.
But unlike Springsteen, who has attracted his fair share of criticism since resurfacing in 2001, Crow manages to keep herself from shouting on a podium, using her trademark breeziness with a small touch of sassiness and very smart songwriting, another trait Crow has developed over the course of her decade-plus career.
The album outside of a few political statements is most likely her most personal to date as she opens herself to her fans over Lance Armstrong in the subtly biting 'Diamond Ring.' The song is her most emotional to date. The refrain 'Diamond ring!' sums up all her emotions, disappointment, despair, and even a hint of pure anger. She also shares her pain over her bout with breast cancer in the dreary 'Make It Go Away' and has a very touching reflection for her son Wyatt in the sweetly named 'Lullaby for Wyatt.'
She also shows off her versatility, breaking away from her trademark bouncy, folksy pop/rock by fusing a large helping of Arabic pop in 'Peace Upon Us,' which features a couple of Arabic singers singing in Arabic. She also gets a little reggae in the playful 'Out Of Our Heads.'
Overall, 'Detours' could be described as one heck of a ride with a whole lot of power. There's something in the album for everyone, from the politically active to the personal and reflective, and of course the playful folksy lovers that have defined her for many years. The album reunites her with Bill Bottrell, the producer who turned a backup singer-turned kindergarten teacher into an eventual music star with her 1993 debut, 'Tuesday Night Music Club.' In a way, one can say both Bottrell and Crow have come full circle after 15 years and have crafted her best sounding and diverse album since 'C'mon, C'mon.' And through all the bounciness, folksiness, and peppiness, the aptly named album takes a few detours into the heart, soul, and mind of Sheryl Crow. And you know what?
That's not a bad thing.
Release Date: Feb., 5th 2008
My rating: 4.6/5
Alan Ho is the chief head of Musiqtone. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.