Let’s get it out of the way – the latest release from Sheryl Crow is not an ode to cyclist fiancée Lance Armstrong like everyone thinks it is. Crow clearly dedicates the album to him in the booklet, but cites him as creative inspiration, not subject matter for songs. Crow is too much of a professional songwriter to completely indulge in herself while forgetting the important and artistic issues that are just waiting to be turned into songs.
Wildflower showcases Crow’s lyrical prowess instead of her ability to rock. It is a greatly different product than her famous works that put her on the map. The rocker who used to “only want to have some fun” has traded in her toe-tapping guitar riffs for this round and examines the more cerebral side of life. Crow stated that she wanted an album that “asked the questions that a 40-year-old would ask.”
The album is consistently mellow, containing only one up-beat song – the well-done “Live It Up.” But don’t be fooled; Crow has not become a pessimist. Most of the pieces are quiet but hopeful commentaries regarding relationships and the way we live life, while others simply concern the classic quandaries of existence.
Wildflower’s impressive opener, “I Know Why,” talks about believing in love and allowing a person into the heart. It maintains an attractive melody and shows off Crow’s voice. The album’s first single, “Good Is Good,” remains as one of the record’s best. In it, Crow examines someone who lives life too practically and encourages people to not miss out on life’s little treasures. The song is kinetic with poetic lyrics and sounds fantastic.
Crow truly demonstrates her talent for songwriting on Wildflower with songs that read like beautiful poems and complement the music. In the album’s most poignant song, “Letter to God,” Crow writes, “What do you do when you look to the left and you look to the right and find no clues to the questions you ask yourself at night?” She strikes another personal chord in “Lifetimes” when she writes, “We could live lifetimes in a single day.” These two lyrics deeply resonate with classic human sentiments of looking for answers and feeling as if life is happening too much and too fast. Perhaps one of the most interesting lyrics can be found on the record’s concluding piece, “Where Has All the Love Gone.” Crow writes, “I saw the strangest thing on the evening news. A man who isn’t sad at all by what’s going on.” Could Crow possibly be referring to President Bush? Draw your own conclusions.
This ambitious project of Sheryl Crow’s might not have her listeners grooving to her beats as her previous albums have. But Crow isn’t concerned with that. She foregoes a sure hit for the sake of singing some truly profound lyrics that illustrate a pensive and mature musician. Wildflower is not the defining work of Sheryl Crow’s career, but it is an accentuation of her artistry.
– Jesse North
Ten Thousand Fists
Reprise / Wea
It’s often hard to judge a band’s third album when the previous two were huge successes. Disturbed’s triple platinum album Sickness catapulted them to the top of the metal world, and their 2002 release Believe debuted on the Billboard Top 100 at No. 1, so the pressure was on for their 2005 release Ten Thousand Fists.
For bands, the process of creating that third album can be really stressful since they know they have to make it count. Disturbed took that pressure and turned it into an album as good, if not better, than any of their previous ones.
It bears the same aggression and intensity of their previous albums and also adds in some new elements to show how the band is growing musically.
Front man David Draiman, recently ranked in the Top 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Stars of all time by Hit Parader magazine, has arguably one of the most distinctive vocal styles in heavy metal today.
Ten Thousand Fists places a big emphasis on his voice allowing him to really explode in every song. “Guarded” is one of the heaviest but most melodic songs on the album. Here you get the full essence of Draiman’s voice because he uses his soft melodic vocals for the verses of the song and then quickly turns his voice into that evil staccato-style vocal that he is famous for.
Probably the biggest change in the band’s third album is that they have unleashed the beast.
They have let guitarist Dan Donegan, one of metal’s most underrated and most skillful guitarists, rip through songs with fast complicated solos that have never been heard on a Disturbed track.
This is a new style for Disturbed – normally Donegan would ‘stupefy’ fans with his complicated guitar licks throughout each song without even having a solo.
This new element shows the band’s maturity and how they are utilizing the raw talent they have to broaden their sound. Now when you listen to songs like “Stricken” and “Overburdened,” the new element of a guitar solo really makes the band stand out from their previous work.
This album contains 14 songs of pure heavy metal at its best. Draiman continues to rock the metal world with his vocals and Donegan, one of metal’s greatest guitarists, has been released to show the world his talent.
The album may be called Ten Thousand Fists, but in reality, there will be millions holding up their fists with the new Disturbed album grasped proudly in their hands.
– Dan Cappello