Point to ponder while contemplating Sheryl Crow's new "Wildflower" CD: will a bad review earn a set of tread marks on my back?
Time to run. Don't be deceived into thinking that big rock on Crow's finger courtesy of fiancee Lance Armstrong will result in a giddy album of love songs. Instead, this disc is downbeat and downright boring.
Crow is 43 now, beyond the point where all you wanna do is have some fun. She's brooding over the big issues of life, love, loyalty and mortality, and that's more than understandable. It's just harder to make that into engaging pop-rock tunes, and that's Crow's strength, where she beat the odds to become very successful in a style that's no longer fashionable.
Here, you slog through seven earnest, mid-tempo songs until there's a sign of life: "Live it Up" has Crow urging someone to not let life pass them by, and it has the disc's strongest hook and quickest pace. "Always on Your Side" is the best of the rest, a stately ballad that benefits from stripping the music down. Otherwise, the production is simultaneously busy and rather anonymous, unwisely emphasizing Crow's thin vocals.
Perhaps "Wildflower" has a few seeds that will take time to grow. Pass the fertilizer, though.