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Albums Reviews

Sheryl Crow

100 Miles From Memphis
[Three and a half stars]

Rolling Stone IN Aug 10, 2010

Sheryl Crow grew up near Memphis, long enough ago to know the tradition of Stax/Volt and Hi Records firsthand ”“ those labels’ fusion of R&B, rock and country has always informed her best music ”“ so the ease she brings to this explicit tribute isn’t surprising. Her smoky rasp is thinner than many who’ve plowed these fields, but Crow is a hook-miner, and her phrasing is tough and sexy enough to put the material over. On ‘Stop,’ a string-bolstered heartache ballad, she works some Aretha-style drama. And when, on the bouncy “Peaceful Feeling,” she suggests, “Let’s dance to the music, baby,” her barroom-queen swagger is enough to get you digging for jukebox quarters.

The arrangements, shaped by co-producer Doyle Bramhall II, are refreshingly impure: This isn’t an archeology dig. On ”˜Eye to Eye,’ abetted by Keith Richards, Crow rides a muscular reggae groove with brass à la Toots Hibbert’s Toots in Memphis. ”˜Say What You Want’ is a funky Sarah Palin bitch slap (“I heard you tell me to reload. . . . Someone unplug the microphone”). Justin Timberlake appears on the Al Green-ish Terence Trent D’Arby tune ”˜Sign Your Name.’ And on the bonus cover of ”˜I Want You Back,’ Crow’s impression of Michael Jackson ”“ who supplied her first big break by hiring her as a background singer ”“ is so accurate it’s chilling.

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Key Tracks: ”˜Long Road Home,’ ”˜Summer Day,’ ”˜Stop’

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