Sheryl Crow pours out heartbreak and a survivor's spirit in her new album

Thursday, February 14, 2008
Kennett, Mo.-native Sheryl Crow takes a more serious tone on "Detours," her latest album. (Rick Maiman ~ Associated Press)

NEW YORK -- Not much scares Sheryl Crow these days.

Not breast cancer, which she's battled into remission. Not public heartbreak, which is less raw now. Not writing bolder lyrics, which means less radio play.

"The last three years were a real awakening for me," Crow said during a stop to promote her first album since 2005. "I've felt a fearlessness I've never felt before."

That bravery is the product of a one-two punch -- the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness only days after the collapse of her engagement to bike champion Lance Armstrong.

Last spring, she poured out her feelings in a studio built at her new Tennessee farm. With newly adopted baby Wyatt keeping her company, she knocked out 24 songs in 40 days.

The result is "Detours," a CD that veers from the intensely personal to the unabashedly political, from cancer and love lost to Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war.

"A lot of defining moments brought me to a place where by the time I sat down to write, I felt not only inspired but urgent about what I was writing about," said Crow, a native of Kennett, Mo..

A key feature of the new disc is a more strident political stance taken by a songwriter more known for such good-time hits as "Soak Up the Sun," "All I Wanna Do" and "If It Makes You Happy."

Six years ago, her song "Steve McQueen" originally contained the lines, "We've got liars in the White House/And all our pop stars look like porn." She reluctantly scrapped it, afraid to offend Bill Clinton fans.

No more.

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