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Sheryl Crow: 100 Miles from Memphis

[A&M Records]

By Brian Baker · August 10th, 2010 · Short Takes

Each new triumph that Sheryl Crow has notched in her career has been slightly more unlikely than the last. Not many elementary school music teachers have lucrative jingle singing gigs, and even fewer parlay that success into a back-up vocalist slot with Michael Jackson. Crow’s official 1993 debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club, barely made a dent when it came out, but the following spring saw the impossible rise of “All I Do,” leading to three 1995 Grammys, including the often-fatal New Artist of the Year award.

Crow’s eponymous and self-produced 1996 follow-up was a gritty revelation and proof that she was willing to shed the innocuous Pop veil of her first album to delve into darker, more contentious lyrical territory.

And while none of her subsequent six studio albums have come close to registering Tuesday Night’s multi-platinum numbers, Crow has posted more than a few impressive accomplishments, recordings with Sting, Ryan Adams, Kid Rock, Scott Weiland and Mick Jagger, a James Bond theme song, more Grammys, some acting and movie music gigs and surviving breast cancer among them.

For her seventh studio album, 100 Miles from Memphis, Crow takes a page from the Shelby Lynne handbook and returns to her southern Midwest roots for an album full of vintage Soul/Pop sounds. Horns, crystalline back-up singers and slinky rhythms dominate 100 Miles, but Crow wisely weaves the Soul thread into her existing and highly successful Roots Rock tapestry.

Without the propulsive backbeat and Soul appointments, “Our Love Is Fading” would be an easy fit in Crow’s previous catalog, as would the Reggae-touched “Eye to Eye” and the Folk/Country bounce of “Long Ride Home.” But Crow digs deeper on 100 Miles, too; this isn’t simply a Sheryl Crow album with a Soul paint job. She writes from an authentic ’60s AM Soul/Pop perspective, particularly on the album’s first single, “Summer Day,” and the joyous “Peaceful Feeling,” which bristle with Stax goodness.


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