Crow’s ‘Detours’ delivers strong political message

Joanna Beckett

Jump into a red 1966 Mustang, cruise down Pacific Coast Highway and stumble upon a couple detours on a warm day. If you don’t have a vintage car at your disposal and you’re suffering in the winter cold, Sheryl Crow’s new CD, “Detours” offers a little jolt of spring.

“Detours” is an upbeat, introspective, spiritual and political musical message that melds a variety of themes into a cohesive piece of musical work.

The gospel, according to Sheryl Crow, begins with a folksy and at times clich’eacute; song titled, “God Bless This Mess,” where Crow laments on the events during and after Sept.11, with the lyrics “I heard about the day two skyscrapers went down? then he led us as a nation into a war based on lies.”

Crow vents on nearly half of the tracks about social issues that include the topics of money, war and spirituality. A variety of spiritual connotations are evoked by Crow, including pleading with the “Children of Abraham” on the song “Out of Our Heads,” where she sings about social issues like genocide and war.

Some of her unique political commentary can be heard on the catchy, upbeat song “Gasoline”. “Gasoline” is a song that is likely to start a riot during the hot summer months, when gas prices start to soar. On this track, Crow sounds more like a rapper than a singer with her storytelling style about the future of gas consumption.

“Gasoline will be free, will be free” is an anthem-like chant she sings on the track that amplifies the lyrical imagery of robbing an oil field and its barons. The song is ridden with social and political commentary that is delivered through a catchy hook.

Crow’s voice falls perfectly in line on the Middle Eastern style song “Peace Be Upon Us.” The song is reminiscent of another Crow hit, “Soak up the Sun,” from the platinum album, “C’ mon C’ mon.” Crow is a risk taker on this up-tempo track where she attempts to successfully sing in Arabic, when accompanied by Arabian performer Ahmed Al Hirmi.

“Detours” is an album that also finds Crow reuniting with once estranged musical collaborator Bill Bottrell, for her sixth studio album. Bottrell is credited with producing Crow’s successful 1993 debut, “Tuesday Night Music Club,” that went platinum seven times, and garnered Crow three Grammy awards.

Since her early 1990’s debut onto the pop/rock scene, Crow has gone on to win four more Grammys, and released 2003’s “The Very Best of Sheryl Crow,” a greatest hits compilation.

Despite the timely social commentary, Crow shines on tracks that deal with life and love; a topic she has perfected lyrically on this album. The title track “Detours” finally ends the section on society’s failures and moves into the complexity of love. Crow sings with the conviction of a woman who has loved and lost, especially when crooning the lyrics “with the sweet love of mine, do I give it away.”

A reoccurring theme of regret and questioning of love is on display and remains apparent throughout the last half of the album.

On the low- tempo, rhythm and blues inspired “Now That You’re Gone”, that woman who was confused about love disappears, and in her place appears an independent woman singing the words ” Now that you’re gone, I am free.” This newfound independent and confrontational Crow is more than evident on “Diamond Ring,” a track that seems to address her cancelled engagement to cyclist Lance Armstrong. She screams with pain and passion with the lyrics, “Diamonds may be sweet, but to me they just bring on cold feet.”

“Detours,” is just as its name suggests; an album filled with the many detours of love, life and society. Crow used simple lyrics to convey complex emotions that the average listener will understand and relate to, even if this is not a genre of choice. The album is concise, short and sweet, and encompasses all of the elements of a “good” album – emotion, conviction, and rhythm.