Nobody would blame Sheryl Crow if she decided to turn pensive on Detours, her first album since breaking up with Lance Armstrong and beating breast cancer a couple of years ago. But her last CD, 2005's Wildflower, was pretty much that record — an introspective and melancholy "personal" album, which sank with little notice. Rather than plod over that ground again, Crow puts on a happy face for most of Detours, making a few stops along the way to take some half-assed swipes at President Bush.
As its title implies, Detours can't help but be informed by the past two years' events. No one really sees a relationship on the skids till it's too late; life-ending illnesses are even less predictable. Crow applies a making-lemonade-out-of-lemons mind-set here, shrugging off Hurricane Katrina in the acoustic-strummed sing-along "Love Is Free" and promoting good vibes in "Out of Our Heads." But when she gets self-righteously political in "Shine Over Babylon" ("We celebrate the golden cow/Praise the bloated bank account") and "Peace Be Upon Us" (the Arabic lyrics drive home a point that really doesn't need to be chaperoned), it sounds forced — as if Crow felt an obligation to her left-leaning pals to throw in a song or two about how much the world sucks. Crow's real interests these days center on her infant son (who guests on the closing "Lullaby for Wyatt") and putting the past behind her. She should leave the deep stuff to M.I.A.