Crystal Bowersox, the runner up to season 9 of American Idol, releases her debut Album on Dec 14th titled “Farmer’s Daughter.” With the album Crystal does not fit into any certain mold that is for sure. There are songs that sound country, a few rock songs and of course some blues thrown in. No matter what genre she is singing Crystal puts her all into the songs and you can tell she has lived them from the passion in her voice. I love to listening to singers when you can tell they just love music and love to sing.
The CD starts off with Riding With The Radio. She wrote this one post Idol after she performed at Michael Franti’s Power To The Peaceful Festival. Crystal lets you know right off the bat she isn’t going to be someone who writes music just to fit in with Radio, “If you wanna sing a song just sing it. We ain’t riding with the radio” This is one where I could see the music fitting in with country. Like most of the songs on the CD you were able to hear them before you heard the final CD version. I must say I much preferred the acoustic live version. The production on this is a little too busy for my taste.
The 2nd song is a cover of Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth. She doesn’t change the song up too much. But I really dig her bluesy and sometimes sexy vibe to her voice on this.
Next is the title track Farmer’s Daughter. This is probably the most personal song on the CD. It is about her relationship with an abusive, alcoholic mother. Crystal has said that she wrote this song to get it out of her and that she has a good relationship with her mother now. This was one of my favorite pre-idol songs by her, and the CD version didn’t disappoint!
The 4th track is Holy Toledo. She wrote this song when she was 17 and leaving Ohio to move to Chicago. Like FD it was one of my Pre-Idol favorites. After the first listen I thought, like RWTR there was too much going on. But after a few more listens I have come to really like it. Her voice sounds beautiful and during the last chorus the bass and drums really kick in and Crystal wails out the lyrics. The combination of the three really make you feel the lyrics even more.
After the powerful Holy Toledo she hits you with some cheesy whistling opening Lonely Wont Come Around. I personally hate whistling, so the song could do without it. However it is a really fun song about finally finding that special someone. This song was a co-write.
The 6th track was written by Kara Dioguardi and Chad Kroeger from Nickleback, called Hold On. Skip it, I do.
The next two songs On The Run and Kiss Ya were two songs that I wasn’t too crazy about from her pre-idol tunes but boy do they benefit from a full band and production! They rock! On The Run to me sounds like a rockin’ country song. Kiss Ya sounds like a Lenny Kravitz inspired song. She has said she would like to duet with him. I sure would like to see her rocking to this with her dreads flying around. Let your dreads down Crystal! With the song she is letting whoever know that when she finally sees them she is going to knock em down and kiss em! In fact it was written about her now husband, Brian Walker. They met singing at open mic nights and flirted at the idea of a relationship. Crystal has said they would write “love letters” back and forth and perform them. The next three songs were part of those “love letters as well.
The 9th track is Speak Now. It has a gospel/rock/blues flair much like her performance of “Long as I see the Light” performance. The song pleads for her lover to speak up before she hits the road and leaves Chicago. (She sure does move around a lot!) The guitar solo by producer David Bendeth is beautiful with Crystal faintly wailing in the background.
Next is Mine All Mine. This is another one that has a country feel to it. It is a simple sweet love song. She wrote this post idol after falling in love with her now husband. She tells him she doesn’t need material things she just needs him. I could see couples in a small town country bar dancing the two step to this.
The 11th track, Mason, is a duet with her husband Brian Walker who wrote the song before Idol and Crystal wrote a bridge for the album version. This song needed the bridge because the song was a little repetitive without it. But the words didn’t matter so much because just listening to their voices blend is enough. They sound beautiful together. I love harmony and this song doesn’t disappoint. Something interesting to note about this song. Instead of reading vows at their wedding they sang this song…AAAAWWW!
The 12th and final track is a song she wrote after Idol titled Arlene. The song is about the bus driver for the girls on the Idol Tour. It is about a simple woman who does what it takes to live. This is another song that to me sounds country. It is the most stripped down song on the CD, you can hear the guitar pick sliding along the strings of the guitar, and Crystal’s voice is soft and beautiful. The only complaint I have about this song is it isn’t long enough. I do wish there was more to the story of Arlene. Perhaps there will be a sequel! But it is clear from the song that Arlene had an impact on Crystal and I bet she will be proud when she hears the song.
So there you have it my biased opinion on the album! Some will say that Crystal was born too late and would fit in better in the 90’s when female singer/songwriters like Jewel, Sheryl Crow, Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan, to name a few, flourished. But for someone who was in college in the 90’s and listened to a lot of female artist from that era I was thrilled to have someone like Crystal on Idol. Will she bring radio back to the way it was? Probably not but you don’t need to hear her music on the radio. You can buy the CD and enjoy it whenever you want.
You can listen to the full CD on AOL Music here http://music.aol.com/new-releases-full-cds/#/3