Sheryl Crow 's sixth studio album, Detours. The album marks the return of producer Bill Bottrell, who previously worked with Crow on her breakthrough debut album Tuesday Night Music Club, which earned the singer three Grammy Awards, and sold more than ten million copies worldwide. 'This is the most honest record I've ever made. It's about being forced to wake up,' says Crow. 14 tracks. Universal. 2008.
Thematically, Detours may not seem like much of a detour to Sheryl Crow fans. Her politics pour out of these songs the way you might expect them to if you caught wind of her epic cross-country bus trip, with the activist Laurie David, to promote environmental awareness months prior to this release. From the quiet, faraway-sounding opener "God Bless This Mess"--a novel in a song--to the catchy but thought-provoking "Gasoline," it's clear that Crow has more on her mind these days than soaking up the sun or having a little fun, à la the Tuesday Night Music Club era. Yet there's not a groan-worthy song on this standout rock/pop/folk/blues album. If the themes are heavy (in addition to the political songs, there's an almost painfully tender lullaby for her son Wyatt and one, "Make It Go Away [Radiation Song]," that touches on her breast-cancer experience), the mood is cathartic, determined, hopeful at times and sad at others. "Now That You're Gone" grabs at clarity through the clouds of a devastating love affair and gets it, and "Peace Be Upon Us" picks apart pettiness and arrives at a wide-minded beauty. George Harrison seems present in some of these songs, especially the more personal ones ("Drunk with the Thought of You," "Love Is All There Is"). And that may be the highest compliment that Sheryl Crow, who seems to admire his gentle soul and shares his big heart, could ask for. --Tammy La Gorce