As always, on her seventh studio album the success or failure of Sheryl Crow's recordings is centered on whether or not the listener can truly get caught up in the musical groove. Fortunately, on 100 Miles From Memphis the insistent propulsive energy rarely lets up. Her commercial power in the pop market may have faded somewhat in recent years, but Sheryl Crow remains one of the most consistent of pop and rock soloists. Long-term fans will be pleased by this album, and more casual followers should be impressed by the stylistic commitment here.
Sheryl Crow Spreads Soul Across Entire Album
Like such classics as Dusty Springfield's Dusty In Memphis, Sheryl Crow takes her inspiration for this entire album from the incomporably rich legacy of Memphis soul. She ventures into a stripped down Al Green influenced style with Memphis native Justin Timberlake to cover Terence Trent d'Arby's hit "Sign Your Name." The single "Summer Day" finds her in a Stax Records pop-soul mood. The song "Roses and Moonlight" utilizes guitar effects and a funky beat that might have found its way into an Isaac Hayes classic of the late 60s or early 70s. The aura of Memphis soul imparts a cohesiveness to 100 Miles From Memphis that makes the whole project musically satisfying.
Continuous With Sheryl Crow's Classic Sound
Long-term fans of Sheryl Crow will find plenty to like here. Since her breakthrough album Tuesday Night Music Club, her best music has been animated by a groove that borrows at least in part from classic soul. However, rock influences that have frequently been present are toned down here. The overall effect of that is to make 100 Miles From Memphis laidback and relaxed such that even the social anthem "Say What You Want" avoids a spirit of preachiness. This is an album that would be quite comfortable at the adult backyard barbecue instead of as part of an intensive music listening session.
Top Tracks on '100 Miles From Memphis'
- "Sign Your Name"
- "Summer Day"
- "100 Miles From Memphis"
- "Roses and Moonlight"
- "I Want You Back" (bonus track)
Solid Sheryl Crow Outing
100 Miles From Memphis is a very solid outing from Sheryl Crow. It is unlikely to return her to major pop singles chart success, but that is not necessary at this point to maintain her strong core audience and recognized position as one of today's top singer-songwriters. The remaining adult pop-rock audience that focuses on albums instead of individual hit songs will be very pleased with how unified the 100 Miles From Memphis project sounds. A welcome surprise that provides a bonus track coda is Sheryl Crow's cover of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back." A significant part of Sheryl Crow's early career involved touring with Michael Jackson as a backup vocalist promoting the Bad album. This is her tribute, and it is a quite solid, charming one providing a perfect, Detroit-influenced, soul-pop finish to 100 Miles From Memphis.
Released July 2010 by A&M Records.