Crow takes "Detours" on road to renewal

Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:18pm EST
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By Ken Tucker

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - Despite the comfort of her surroundings -- a warm and tastefully decorated den dominated by a fireplace on one wall and windows that look out over her front 40 on another -- Sheryl Crow is clearly not comfortable.

It's not the soon-to-be-solar-and-wind-powered house or the guest that makes her edgy -- although she does allow that she'd love to be holding her young son, who instead was being put down for a nap by a nanny.

It's that after a trying three years, Crow is eager to share just what's been going on in her life and what she sees going on in the world.

A lot has happened since her fifth studio album, "Wildflower," hit stores in September 2005. Her very public relationship with and engagement to champion cyclist Lance Armstrong came to an end in early 2006, and soon thereafter Crow was diagnosed with breast cancer.

And just weeks before "Wildflower" was released -- to mixed reviews and sales well below those of her past efforts -- Hurricane Katrina wrought its lasting damage upon New Orleans and the surrounding area. Crow's addresses that tragedy as well as the ongoing war in Iraq, politics and the environment on "Detours," her new A&M album due February 5.

But the new set is not just about the past. It also represents new beginnings and the return of an old friend. In the spring of 2007, Crow became a single mother when she adopted a 2-week-old baby boy, Wyatt Steven. Just months earlier, in October 2006, she had moved to a 150-acre farm 45 minutes outside of Nashville, in the rolling hills of Williamson County. After living for years in Los Angeles and then in Texas with Armstrong, Crow made the move, she said, to be closer to family. (Older sister Kathy lives in Nashville, and Crow's hometown of Kennett, Mo., is approximately 200 miles to the west.)

The new record also marks the first time she has collaborated with songwriter/producer Bill Bottrell since the two became estranged after the release of her 1993 multiplatinum debut, "Tuesday Night Music Club." Bottrell said that when the two reunited, "it was like no time had passed. Musically, we still had the connection we always had."

It was on her farm, in a studio she built on the ground floor, that Crow, Bottrell and a small group of musicians created "Detours." Crow and Bottrell both brought ideas to the table, but much of the album was written as it was recorded, "which is the way we always worked," Bottrell said. "We write and start demoing and the demo eventually becomes the master."   Continued...