After a short stint at Capital in the late '80s, singer/songwriter Cheryl Wheeler found a more permanent home at Philo, where she recorded albums like Driving Home (1993) and Mrs. Pinocci's Guitar (1995). Different Stripe offers a lengthy retrospective of her impressive musical career, and although it has been released by Philo, it contains several selections from her work with Capitol. Wheeler is an introspective songwriter with a contemporary folk sensibility. On "Moonlight and Roses" she poetically describes the end of a relationship, adding poignantly, "There's nothin' you'd ask me that I wouldn't try/Please don't let this love go by." "Gandhi/Buddha" takes a more contemplative turn as she imagines that she must have accomplished great deeds in a former life to deserve true love. Wheeler is also a master of description, using details of weather and the seasons to reflect a particular mood. The picturesque "When Fall Comes to New England" captures the subtle changes of cooler nights, geese flying south, and squash ripening on the vine. "75 Septembers" considers a grandmother and the tremendous changes that occurred during her lifetime. "Are you more amazed at how things change, or how they stay the same?," Wheeler asks. The production varies from piece to piece, but the singer and the song remain the focal point of this collection. For anyone unfamiliar with Wheeler's work, Different Stripe is the place to start. For those already familiar with her formidable talents, the disc serves as a reminder of a long and productive career.
AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.