CD Review: Songwriter Sheryl Crow’s New Music is Personal on “Detours”

Originally posted 2008-02-10 21:44:58. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

RATING:  2 / 5 stars

By Chris Moore:

As an album, Detours is certainly not what its title would imply. If anything, this is a further return to form for Sheryl Crow – equal parts acoustic and electric, serious and carefree. At every turn, it surprises and engages and, above all, denies the listener the opportunity to get too comfortable. She is concerned about a series of social issues, yet she does not stop there—she shares some advice for getting back on the right track and, of course, some relevant personal tales.

The songs on this album can essentially be divided into three main categories—topical songs, songs about love and peace, and personal songs. The album kicks off with a selection from the first category, the acoustic-only “God Bless This Mess.” With lines like, “The president…led us as a nation into a war based on lies,” Crow establishes early on that she will not be pulling any punches. Then, if there was any question in the listener’s mind as to whether or not this album would be too simple, she thunders into “Shine Over Babylon,” spewing lines about teachers’ hands being “overrun,” cities “drowning under boiling fountains,” and scavengers handing us “all the junk that should have damned” us. Upon a first listen, I was happy to hear that someone else is very much unhappy with the state of affairs in our nation and in our world. She goes on to address, as the title implies, “Gasoline” and the priorities that some place in parties, reality-TV, and the like in “Motivation.”

If this was her only focus, then Detours may have been quite a downer indeed. However, true to form, Crow compliments her darker songs with an equal helping of tunes calling for us to embrace peace and love. In an almost hippie-esque fashion, she declares “Everybody’s making love ‘cause love is free” and later calls upon us to invoke the refrain, “Peace Be Upon Us” At times, these songs can end in a repetitive manner or come across as too simple, but overall they seem sincere and not so out of place on an album that asks us to strip everything down to the surface, from social issues to romantic relationships. And, if the protest song-undertones of songs like “Out of Our Heads” isn’t your cup of tea, then it is hard to ignore a catchy and upbeat rocker like “Love Is All There Is.” Ringo Starr would be proud.

What really brings this album home for me is the final category of songs, namely the personal tales that inhabit this release. Both the title track and “Make It Go Away (The Radiation Song)” come across as deeply personal and, again, very sincere. Coming on the heels of her recent treatments for cancer, these songs translate as authentic glimpses into her mindset as an individual. For instance, as she explained in a recent interview, detours is a term she uses to describe experiences that force us to reevaluate our priorities and our lives. Physical health isn’t her only concern; on the contrary, the emotions of new love shine through on “Drunk With the Thought of You” and the gloom of love gone wrong can be heard in every breath of “Diamond Ring.” I thought it very fitting of her to put “Lullaby for Wyatt” last in the track listing. After an album’s worth of sorting through the world’s problems and both advocating the importance of and considering the realities of love, she ends with the realization that she loves her son, but “love is letting go.”

When she released C’mon, C’mon in 2002, I had difficulty finding merit in its pop-based sound and mentality, and I wondered what her future albums would be like. It only took a few guitar strums and the first line of track one, “I Know Why,” from her subsequent 2005 album Wildflower to put any concerns out of my mind entirely. Now, Detours has reaffirmed my interest in Crow’s music, if only for its ability to cover so much ground—political, social, interpersonal—in such a sincere manner.

** EDITOR’S NOTE **

The 2 star rating (out of five) was added after the review was written.  This is an album that had very little staying power, and I was admittedly much more enthusiastic about the release than I should have been, most likely due to events in my personal life — i.e. the decision to buy more CD’s in 2008 to really experience a broader range of new music.  I hope you enjoy the album, as I did when I first wrote this review.  However, the rating should act as a warning from a wiser listener.  :-)

“The Sound of Settling” (Death Cab for Cutie Cover)

Originally posted 2009-08-11 13:20:37. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For Death Cab for Cutie chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

This one gave me blisters on me fingers and numbness in me thumb (thanks to all the sliding up and down the guitar neck, the barre chords in the progression, and the fact that I didn’t really know the lyrics to the verses before playing it tonight), but it was all worth it, for all two minutes of it.

And, quite a number of takes of this simple little song later, I know the lyrics by heart!

“The Sound of Settling” is the second single from Death Cab for Cutie’s fourth album, Transatlanticism.  This is the album that my sister, Jaime, strongly recommended I hear if I hear nothing else from the band.  Seeing as how this is one of those “I’ve heard of them, but I haven’t heard any of their songs” bands for me, I picked it up on sale and enjoyed it.  Apparently, it was the first album that frontman Ben Gibbard felt was a truly serious, well put together record.

While I like several of the songs on this album very much, I haven’t found myself very interested in picking up their other material, as they seem to have a penchant for EPs and other non-album releases.  Those sorts of releases seem nice if you’re a fan and have new material to look forward to, but they’re really quite expensive over the long run.  Consider Ben Folds’ EPs  Speed Graphic, Sunny 16, and Super D; those added up to a combined total of about $24.00 for 15 songs, about 7 or maybe 8 of which were any good.  This is not a slight to the good songs on these EPs; some were tremendous and among his best ever released.

Then there were the covers and outtakes from previous albums that he re-recorded.  And, as any music fan knows, some songs were never meant to see official release outside of designated bonus track status on another album or collection.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this cover song music video, as it is the first Death Cab for Cutie song to be debuted at the Laptop Sessions blog.  There was so little new music of interest this week as well as last week that even I don’t feel a need to visit Newbury Comics today.  And THAT’S saying something!  So, instead, I went back to my iPod to find a band that we had missed along the way.  There are still a lot of bands that have gone uncovered, as well as classic and/or great songs from artists that we have, so don’t even think about taking us out of your “Favorites” menu.

Instead, be sure to stop by later tonight when our founder makes his triumphant return to the second day of the week as it should be:  Jim Fusco Tuesday!

See you next session!

(The text of my original Monday night post follows below the video…)

Originally titled and posted as:

The Laptop Sessions: “_ _ _   _ _ _ _ _   _ _   _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _” (???? Acoustic Rock Cover Song)

By Chris Moore:

Well, my cover song music video for tonight is recorded, rendered, and ready to go…

…and if I actually had Internet (thanks for nothing, Cox!) or even a wireless signal from an unsuspecting, password-phobic neighbor, you’d be reading my post and watching my video. Instead, I’ll be posting both my session and the accompanying chords tomorrow after I get a visit from the cable guy (lower case for any of you Jim Carrey fans thinking the worst!) some time between 10:30 and 12:30.

Until then, I’ll leave you with the following clues about the song I’m playing:

1) The song is from one of my favorite albums to listen to at night in a dark room, sometimes to fall asleep to.

2) The aforementioned album is NOT “Pet Sounds.”

3) My sister recommended this band and album.

4) The band is named for the song performed by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band in the 1967 Beatles movie, “Magical Mystery Tour.”

5) The band’s name is comprised of four words – an adjective, a noun, a preposition, and an object of the prep. -in that order.

Okay, that’s all I’ll give you. Check back Tuesday afternoon for the startling conclusion to this post!

“Transitions” (Original Wednesday Acoustic Song by Chris Moore)

Originally posted 2009-02-18 23:41:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to my first Original Wednesday since Christmas Eve!  This is an exciting week for me, as I’m off from work.  There have been plenty of things to keep me busy — really, too many to list — but I woke up this morning and, despite the work I should be doing, I decided to work out this song and record it for tonight’s session.

The song is called “Transitions” and this is a Laptop Sessions world premiere.  It may make it to my next album, it may not…  Only time will tell!  I hope you like it.  This is the first fully recorded version of it, so it’s a demo of sorts.  It’s not perfectly arranged yet, to be sure, but I’m pretty happy with the overall structure of it.  Some of the words may change, some of the rough edges will be smoothed out, but this is your sneak peak at the first complete version of it.  I messed around with the harmonica even after I finished recording this video, and I have to say that this song has (and/or will have) one of my favorite harmonica parts that I’ve written in a very long time.  It’s a very deliberate aspect, but not so note-for-note that it sounds scripted.

Outside of writing and recording this song, I’ve been busy during my February break with some grading for my classes, jury duty yesterday (I was released after “a day’s service”), preparing logs for my BEST portfolio, reading three things (Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pro Wrestling, and the 40-page booklet to the Sam Jones film I Am Trying to Break Your Heart), and listening to several albums, including MoU’s Homestead’s Revenge (I think “Worlds Apart” is my favorite song we’ve ever done!), Pearl Jam’s Binaural, and Dan Auerbach’s Keep It Hid.  Oh, and I can’t forget to mention my favorite playlist that I referred to in Monday’s post — the “Albums of 2008” iTunes playlist.  Good stuff all around…

We’ve gotten a decent number of views to the blog for the chords and cover video of Dan Auerbach’s “My Last Mistake.”  That’s exciting because I wasn’t sure what to expect with this fairly obscure song choice.  It’s all the more incentive for me to keep on top of new rock music, bringing whatever I can to the blog as my contribution to this, the best acoustic cover song blog in the universe!  No kidding!

Okay, that’s it for me for this week.  But, even as I write that, I’ll be back to choose and post a Guest Session for Friday.  We’re accepting submissions every day, so don’t wait — record a video on YouTube and send the link to us today with an interesting description.

See you next session!

“Dead Skunk” (A Loudon Wainwright III Cover)

Originally posted 2008-08-02 10:36:11. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to your weekend edition of the best video blog in the world!  And we’re humble, too!

Seriously, though, we’ve really been putting a lot of effort into this acoustic cover song music blog — practicing and recording acoustic rock covers, writing detailed and interesting blog posts and articles, adding photos to our posts, and so much more.  Next year, after the “session-a-day” project is completed, we have so many ideas for expansion that you’ll just have to check back regularly to experience them all.  I can’t say too much for now, but you’ll have to trust me that music fans and even fans of other things will not be disappointed!

And now, to be anything but serious, I bring you Loudon Wainwright III’s most famous song, “Dead Skunk.”  My father used to play this for me from a seventies acoustic rock tape that he had.  It was always a lot of fun, and I still remember not quite believing that “Dead Skunk” was a real song when he sang the chorus to me before I had heard the studio version.

I’ve heard that Wainwright is somewhat bitter about the fact that this song found so much success — and I can’t say I really blame him; it’s quite the legacy!  But this is not the only case of this; just think of the fact that Warren Zevon, with his amazing range of work, will probably only be remembered for “Werewolves of London.”  Still, success is success.

Okay, that’s it for now, but make sure to hurry back tomorrow (as Zevon would sing, “Hurry home early, hurry on home…”) — if you’ve made Laptop Sessions your home, then Jeff Copperthite won’t disappoint with his latest music video tomorrow…

See you next session!