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Life's detours give
Sheryl Crow strength

Sheryl Crow - Detours
(A&M Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Feb. 11, 2008
Sheryl Crow

Review by Tony Bonyata

Detours is singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow's sixth full-length studio album and it marks somewhat of a return-to-form - at least musically - for the 46 year-old musician. On it Crow confronts the pains and joys from the last three years of her own life - many that made tabloid headlines, such as her high-profile romance and split with professional cyclist Lance Armstrong, her battle and victory with breast cancer and the adoption of her baby son, Wyatt.

Crow has enlisted the production talents of Bill Bottrell, who also produced her 1993 debut, Tuesday Night Music Club. But unlike much of the lighter fare of that record Detours finds Crow tackling environmental and political issues with great aplomb. The confident swagger and swaying chorus of the first single from the album, "Shine Over Babylon" is steeped in environmental consciousness with lyrics that bite like an early Dylan tune. "I walked the heat of seven hills," she coolly sings. "Endless talk of losing wills. Great highways in a constant melt. Men and women and children all have overbuilt." Crow also juxtaposes the tragedy of the hurricane-battered New Orleans into the surprisingly lighthearted "Love Is Free," but like many of the compositions on Detours, the singer has taken a negative situation only to dig deep into the emotional mire to find the positive. Crow sets the scene, "We go to town, no one's around. 'Cause if you drown, there ain't no hope of coming back," before she jubilantly sings the chorus "Everybody come together, love is free," as if it were 1967 all over again.

Production-wise the rough-hewn opening track, "God Bless This Mess," sounds like a lo-fi early '60s protest song and lyrically also follows suit as Crow sings of the 9/11 tragedy and the ensuing war on terror, "The president spoke words of comfort with teardrops in his eyes. The, he led us as a nation into a war all based on lies," before taking into us into the future when 'gasoline will be free' on the R&B infused number "Gasoline." On the introspective song "Make It Go Away (Radiation Song)" Crow also faces her own immortality as she reflects from her own cancer experience.

"The world could fall apart, but you're my heart, my dear. I will sing this song 'til we are gone, my dear," Crow whispers to her son on the gentle "Lullaby For Wyatt." Perhaps her own recent experience of staring death in the face has awoken her to much larger issues, but with a positive grounding and firm belief in love as The Great Healer, Crow is able to take the detours and challenges of her own life and translate them wonderfully into her own uplifting compositions.

Watch Sheryl Crow - "Shine Over Babylon" video

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