Album Review: 100 Miles from Memphis by Sheryl Crow
Fairly Good, Based on 7 Critics
AllMusic - 80 Based on rating 8/10
The title and sound of 100 Miles from Memphis can’t help but recall Dusty in Memphis, Dusty Springfield’s 1969 blue-eyed soul classic, but Sheryl Crow’s 2010 album isn’t quite a strict homage to Dusty. Crow draws from many of the same ‘60s sources as Springfield, but she also dabbles in reggae (thanks to the chunky guitar of Keith Richards on “Eye to Eye”) and digs into the cool, seductive ‘70s groove of Hi, channeling Al Green on a sleek reworking of Terence Trent D’Arby’s “Sign Your Name,” complete with support from Justin Timberlake. Add to this the extended funk coda of “Roses and Moonlight,” the hippie singalong of “Long Road Home” and one of Crow’s signature good-time social-conscious raising anthems in “Say What You Want” and 100 Miles from Memphis boasts a considerably more expansive palette than Dusty in Memphis, yet it’s all bonded by its smooth, soulful groove due in part to the co-production from Doyle Bramhall II and Justin Stanley.
Sheryl Crow channels her love of Stevie Wonder, Stax, and all things soulful on her seventh collection, 100 Miles From Memphis, which is split between originals and covers (including a Justin Timberlake-assisted crack at Terence Trent D’Arby’s ”Sign Your Name”). Crow’s ? obvious joy is infectious, but even this former Michael ?Jackson backing singer can’t make a new ”I Want You Back” seem anything other than redundant. B Download These:Eye to Eye, featuring Keith Richards at amazon.comThe Curtis Mayfield-style title track 100 Miles From Memphis at amazon.com See all of this week’s reviews .
From the time that Sheryl Crow’s 1993 debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club, was three singles old, it was clear that Crow had legs. Well, yes, those kind, too, but I was referring to longevity, of the old-fashioned rock star variety. With her blend of sunshiny-soul and Stonesy roots rock, the Flurry from Missouri became one of modern rock’s most reliable figures in an otherwise dying breed of heartland hitmakers.
Nearly two full decades into a career that has struck a rare balance between critical and commercial clout, Sheryl Crow has run into the not altogether uncommon problem of predictability. Even her better albums have, of late, ridged into the same rut of country-inflected rock songs that cover familiar themes: searching for a source of escapism, longing for a deep personal connection, and assessing the current American political climate. When she’s on her game, these are topics that Crow covers well, displaying a Cheshire grin and deep-rooted sense of empathy in equal measure, and overcoming her general lack of surprises.
This, purportedly, is Sheryl Crow's soul album, 12 songs that close the gap between the teenage Crow who listened to Otis, Curtis and Aretha in her bedroom in Missouri, and the studios in Memphis where much of the great soul music was recorded. But if Crow has travelled that 100 miles physically, musically she's barely budged an inch. The title track sticks to her slouchy, country-rock roots, while Peaceful Feeling sounds suspiciously like Crow's breakthrough hit All I Wanna Do, set to the cheerful rhythm of Everyday People and garnished with Stax horns.
With 100 Miles from Memphis, Sheryl Crow takes us back to the glory days of 1960s and 1970s American soul and R&B. The album’s name is a reference to her hometown, Kennett, Missouri, which sits 100 miles from the Tennessee Blues capital. For Crow, the region “is part of who I am, and it’s the biggest inspiration for what I do.” On her seventh album, the American songstress returns to her artistic roots, and reveals more of herself in the process.
Seventh studio album from Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and liberal activist. Paul Lester 2010 If the title of the album, her first since 2008’s Detours, doesn’t give the game away, then the cover versions of The Jackson 5’s I Want You Back and Terence Trent D’Arby’s Sign Your Name should: this is Sheryl Crow’s soul album. And while the title is 100 Miles From – not to – Memphis, there is the sense that she’s been heading this way for years; finally, after all her musical peregrinations, she’s coming home.