Sound: I've always been a big fan of Sheryl Crow and rarely has she disappointed me. This album doesn't disappoint me either but it does seem... different. I'm not sure if she caught the mellow bug this time around or what but there's about... oh... maybe... one upbeat track on this set. Wildflower seems to live in mid-tempo world, however unlike some other lackluster attempts by some of my other favorite artists (Bryan Adams, Paul McCartney, etc.) the songwriting here - especially the lyrics - are definitely spot on.
This album is a sweet mix of Elton John, Carole King, and just a pinch of Beatles. She even thanks Elton in the notes. Mellow isn't always bad, I guess. I just was waiting for some more rocking tunes to pop up. The first time through, you sort of wonder if you're going to like the set, but then after a few listens the melodies and Crow's beautiful voice grow on you like... well... like a wildflower! // 8
Lyrics: Some of the highlights include "I Know Why", "Perfect Lie", "Lifetimes", "Live It Up", "Always On Your Side", and "Where Has All The Love Gone." The other songs are nice enough but these are the tracks you'll want to listen to a few times more then the rest. In fact, I can't seem to get "Live It Up" out of my head. It's the one upbeat tune on the whole set and definitely should be a single, if you ask me. Speaking of singles, I didn't mention "Good is Good" in the list above, which is the lead off single of the set. Frankly, I feel it's one of the weaker tracks. I'm not sure who picks the singles that get released but I don't think that was a good choice. "I Know Why" might have been a better pick but then again, who knows. Today you don't want to blow the load on your first single. You want to keep a good track or two for the follow up. I can definitely see "Live It Up" and "Where Has All The Love Gone" making it onto the singles charts - especially "Love" which is another one of those songs I have stuck in my head now. Thanks Sheryl!
So on the whole, after a few listens you'll like this album. Crow has one of the sweetest voices in rock today and her range is showcased on this set - especially the highs. She makes it hard for us guys to sing along with some of these tunes! // 8
Overall Impression: There are two versions of this set, by the way. You can just get the album itself or you can get the deluxe pack with a bonus DVD which I splurged for. The DVD is definitely cool as it contains "acoustic" versions of seven of the songs plus the whole "Good is Good" video. I do have issues with the DVD though. They're silly issues but they bother me. Most of the acoustic versions feature Sheryl and bandmember John Shanks (who looks like a creepy mix of Ben Affleck and James Gandolfini). They're supposed to be playing live, or at least that's what they're trying to make it look like - but these are clearly lip synched, pre-recorded acoustic versions of the songs that they're miming to. Try following the guitar strumming or really watching Crow's lips as she's singing. There's one point in there where she says a totally different phrase and you can totally see it.
Still - some of these acoustic versions, whenever they were recorded, are outstanding and almost better than the versions on the album itself. It's definitely worth seeing, I just hate that feeling of being hoodwinked into thinking I'm getting "live performances" when I'm getting Milli Vanilli. It's good stuff though - grab it if you can. // 8