CD Review of Wildflower by Sheryl Crow
Label
A&M Records
Sheryl Crow: Wildflower

Reviewed by Red Rocker

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I
t seems poor Sheryl Crow is no longer a lost rock and roll puppy, wandering from dead-end relationship to her next heartbreak song contestant. She is set to wed Mr. Tour de France Lance Armstrong sometime next year. So now at 43, her life is starting to fall into place. Good for her. Unfortunately, while her personal life is flourishing, her musical creativity and uncommon knack for penning that truly great pop song is beginning to suffer. Wildflower, Crow’s sixth album, is chock full of insipid ballads and bland mid-tempo numbers that fail to breathe anything remotely exciting into this mission.

“Letter to God” is representative of the languished pace and absence of passion that engulfs Wildflower. “I took you in, made a bed for you/ In return you gave me some words to go on/ Told me I was safe, but you never said what from,” murmurs the once background singer for Michael Jackson. An acoustic ballad, “Chances Are”, is Crow’s attempt at a stripped-down back porch rhyme, complete with crickets chirping and bullfrogs croaking. Yes, crickets chirping and bullfrogs croaking. It makes fitting sense that the title track is as strung-out and listless as any, a veritable edit room scrap on her previous works.

Of course there are a handful of redeeming flashes with Wildflower. It is Grammy award-winning Sheryl Crow, after all, and while she vehemently refuses to break any molds musically, one can’t help but take to straight-up pop pleasure like “Perfect Lie” or the current single “Good Is Good”. The former sounds like a C’mon C’mon outtake, even though it doesn’t begin to evoke the crank-it-up gusto of “Steve McQueen” or “Soak Up the Sun”. What’s more, Crow has always been able to wrap her gorgeous self around a breathtaking piano ballad, and “Always On Your Side” is no exception. Haunting and beautiful at the same time (similar to her 9/11 ode “Safe and Sound”), there’s enough hope in this one song to sustain her career into the Mrs. Armstrong years. Or is there?

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