Sunday, December 19, 2010

Crystal Bowersox's Debut CD "Farmer's Daughter" Reviewed! Great Christmas Gift!

America Idol's Crystal Bowersox's Debut Album: 4 out of 5 Stars!

Crystal Bowersox was never your typical American Idol contestant. As expected, her debut album Farmer's Daughter is not a typical post-American Idol release. With Bowersox shouldering a majority of the songwriting on the disc, it becomes a personal musical journey akin to her personal struggles in real life. With pop culture often being so shallow and surface, it's refreshing to see a new artist diving deep into themselves to produce material of substance. With this release Bowersox steps out of the shadows of busking and onto the biggest stage of her life so far, and does it with such grace and style you'd think she's been through all this public limelight before. As a seasoned performer in her own right, with years of practice behind her in the bars and streets of Ohio and Illinois, make no mistake that Crystal has been ready for this moment for some time, grooming her style and perfecting her artist within.

The opening tune "Riding With The Radio" is a Rockabilly flavored radio-friendly track that questions “Whatever happened to good old rock and roll ?” and in an almost defiant sentimental tone, Crystal hints that the song is a return to roots, rhythm and days long gone. With a lyrical nod to "Turn On Your Lovelight", it alludes to the 1960's era of music that has in so many ways transformed our musical culture forever. It's a song that Bowersox will get a ton of mileage from, and it's a great lead in to the only cover song on the disc, Buffalo Springfield's 1967 mega-hit, "For What It's Worth". In typical Bowersox fashion, the Stephen Stills classic gets Crystallized, and while the underlying structure remains,the subtlety is now replaced with urgency, perhaps a sign of the times we live in, and no doubt a deliberate move on behalf of Team Bowersox.

The tone of the disc changes rapidly on the title track "Farmer's Daughter," and Crystal bares her soul for the world in a daring move. It's a song that will transcend itself and hit home for many, hopefully healing wounds in the process. By shedding the title of "Farmer's Daughter," Crystal declares her independence and her transformation to a new life. Perhaps the most disturbing lyrics of the track, "When you broke my bones I told the school I fell down the stairs," are about an ugly subject not many artists talk about in a public forum, and I commend Crystal for the courage it takes to have this conversation. It's a standout song that will hopefully not become the entire focus of the release, because Bowersox is about more than this singular track.

"Holy Toledo" continues the journey and autobiographical nature of the disc as Crystal wonders
out loud "How do I get to heaven from here ?" while she leaves her home in hopes of discovering herself as she discovers the rest of the world beyond her hometown. After a song like "Farmer's Daughter" it's really no wonder Crystal left in search of a brighter future, and little can be said other than it was the right choice considering the last year of her life.

"Lonely Won't Come Around" pulls the mood in a different direction, and the upbeat song serves as a turning point to the flow of the disc. It's a pop-laden track full of spunk and heavy rhythm. As it's co-written with David Ryan Harris and Alexandra Tamposi, it's also the least typical Bowersox flavored song on the disc. The song can be seen as a pivotal juncture in many ways, perhaps most obvious the period of time where Crystal emerged on the national scene through her American Idol audition. American Idol changed Crystal's life forever, and it was the turning point for her finding the true happiness she's always been seeking. It's a track that offers a much needed moment of lightheartedness on the disc, and it's placement between "Holy Toledo" and "Hold On" makes perfect sense. The chorus is catchy and Crystal's voice shines through, but it's a stretch to say that this is a song Crystal would have produced on her own.

The Kara DioGuardi and Chad Kroeger penned "Hold On" is a finely tuned and crafted vehicle for Bowersox to showcase her powerful vocals, but as an outsider's attempt to mesh into Crystal's style, it still ends up feeling like a cover song at times. Crystal's vocals are big enough to keep the listener's interest on this track, but the lyrics feel cold in comparison to a track like "Farmer's Daughter", and one is left hoping for more substance. Moving quickly to the second half of the musical journey, Bowersox seems to jump back on the tracks, having been only temporarily derailed by her American Idol contractual obligations. Crystal clearly takes control back as engineer of the train, and the disc is better for it.

Starting off the virtual side two of the effort, "On The Run" is a bluesy and passion filled burst of energy. It paints a picture of a younger Bowersox full of life and attitude, carving her way through the world on her own terms and her own rules. It's a declaration of her free spirit and intentions to find out what life has in store for her. The groove is catchy and once again it's a great opportunity for Crystal to stretch her powerful and nuanced vocals.

Turning the vibe to a funkier tone, "Kiss Ya" is an unabashed message to a lover. While it's not the strongest lyrical offering Crystal has to make on the disc, you can't discount the conviction she offers on the song, noting that "I don't give a shit who's around," when said kissing takes place. This is a song that will most likely resonate more with her female audience, but that is the clever part of "Farmer's Daughter" as a whole, it really does offer a bit of everything for a wide range of old and new fans alike.

Slowing down the pace for a moment is the ballad "Speak Now", which is a bit of a tearjerker. The underlying story is about Crystal and Brian Walker, and a break-up they went through years ago. Of course the story ended up with a fairy tale ending as they were recently married, but Crystal paints the picture of her retreat back to Ohio as a bleak moment in time, with a touch of promise and regret thrown in for good measure. It's a bluesy number that offers a soulful guitar solo and equally impressive vocals. It's a stand out song on the disc and a testament to hope in the darkest hour.

"Mine All Mine" is a strong contender for country radio airplay, and the inclusion of pedal steel guitar solidifies the country love song sound reminiscent of the jukebox-era country I grew up on in the 1970's. It's once again a song that showcases Crystal's feminine side and plays into the romantic musings of her female fans. The lyrics are appropriately girly and echo the thoughts that every woman wonders from time to time, "Are you mine, all mine ?", and in a nod to Johnny Cash, Crystal declares that she'd "Walk the line." It's perhaps a risky song in some ways because it doesn't play as much to her entire fan base, but great artists take risks from time to time, and play their cards as they see fit. This song has a built-in audience that will adore it, and it's wonderfully crafted.

The highlight of Crystal's debut CD is "Mason", a song co-written by husband Brian Walker. It's an excellent example of the sort of music that I hope Crystal explores in the future. It's a heartwarming tune that has as many metaphors as you can fit into a 3 minute and 19 second song. While in the midst of clawing her way to the American Idol finale this song was busy gathering over a hundred thousand hits on Youtube as her budding fan base desperately sought to hear more than the cover songs Crystal was allowed to perform. The tune features pitch perfect harmonies between Bowersox and Walker, and a dream-like tone supporting the melody. It's a song that plays into all of Crystal's strengths as an artist and I hope that Team Bowersox contemplates releasing this as one of the remaining singles from the album.

With the closing track "Arlene" Bowersox offers as her curtain call a song that paints the story of a truck driving woman named Arlene who has an independent do-it-yourself view of life. The track features bassist Frankie May and harmonica player Ryan Suzuka, and feels like a cozy campfire song - a scene I can almost picture in my head. The slow and deceptively simple song is a perfect cap on a solid debut CD that plays to the core audience that propelled Bowersox to the final of American Idol without pandering to the lowest common denominator. It's a sly and sophisticated song that leaves the listener on a high note and pondering what's next for Crystal Bowersox. I would rate the album as a whole 4 out of 5 stars. There's no doubt as Crystal ventures out further on her own and distances herself from American Idol that she'll go far.

©2010 John Schulze

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Watch Crystal Bowersox's People Magazine Interview & get "Farmer's Daughter" for just $6.99, delivered by Christmas!!


American Idol star Crystal Bowersox sits down with People Magazine and boasts about her new album "Farmer's Daughter" and the possibility of adding to her family.,,20449251,00.html


Friday, December 17, 2010

Watch Crystal Bowersox's NEW VIDEO "Farmer's Daughter" and GIVE THE GIFT OF HER MUSIC for only $6.99!

American Idol's Crystal Bowersox releases her first video, the title track from her new, debut CD, the critically acclaimed "Farmer's Daughter." This autobiographical song was written years ago, and I for one am happy it made the cut and was put on the new album along with other heart-felt, emotional songs Crystal wrote in the past, about her past ~ such as "Holy Toledo" (the only contestant-written song EVER to be performed on American Idol).


Also Available, American Idol winner Lee DeWyze's new CD "Live It Up"!
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Preview Crystal Bowersox's new CD "Farmer's Daughter" and Pre-order your copy!

Listen to a preview of American Idol's Crystal Bowersox's debut CD "Farmer's Daughter." This video contains a snippet of all 12 tracks. "Farmer's Daughter" will be released on December 14th by Jive Records.


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Monday, December 6, 2010

Pre-Order the Crystal Bowersox CD, and have it DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR THE DAY IT'S RELEASED!!!

Crystal Bowersox, the American Idol Season 9 runner-up, will release her eagerly anticipated first album, "Farmer's Daughter" on December 14th, 2010. Just click the album cover to the left and follow the easy instructions to be one of the first fans to have Crystal's new album "Farmer's Daughter"! When you pre-order now, the CD will arrive at your shipping address on the DAY of RELEASE (DECEMBER 14th) by 7pm!

"It all started in a small Ohio town. Her humble beginnings and passion for music have driven the 25-year old Crystal Bowersox to become one of the most recognized young voices and up and coming singer/songwriters in America, and soon, beyond.

Crystal's emotive folk-rock-country style was catapulted from the cramped coffeehouses and cavernous subway tunnels of Chicago to millions of homes across America when she placed second on last year’s season of American Idol. Along with her old soul of a voice, her care-free style and "don't mess with me" attitude set her apart from the other contestants and eventually landed the self-taught songstress performances with the likes of the legendary Joe Cocker, Harry Connick Jr., and Alanis Morrissette.

However, the story behind the voice, the acoustic guitar, blue eyes and blonde dreadlocks is much more than skin deep. Produced by David Bendeth, Farmer’s Daughter, Crystal's first studio release (19 Entertainment/Jive Records) chronicles her personal experience of dealing with a dark childhood, to finding love and happiness as a young woman, and everything in between. “It’s my life story," Crystal says. "And that includes the good and bad chapters. I hope that people can appreciate the honesty in the lyrics and get to know me as a person through my music. I'm an open book and this is my diary."

Page one of her journal starts back in rural Ohio, where Crystal lived with her mother and two brothers on a farm. Her parents divorced when she was 2, and there began a constant chaos for years to come. Messy emotions, poverty, and issues stemming from these factors were the catalyst that led Crystal to music. Somewhere in between gathering eggs, feeding the horses, and attempts to maintain peace, her mother tried to instill in her only daughter the love of music. “We got a good deal from our Pastor's wife on piano lessons when I was about 6, and I faked my way through three years of it,” she laughs. “I couldn’t read a lick of music, but I could play what I heard. It was actually Jewel’s first album, Pieces of You, that made me want to better myself and learn to play guitar, not to mention it's hard to lug around a piano. When I was 10 or so, I was snooping for Christmas presents, and happened to find an old acoustic that belonged to my mother. I didn’t even know that she ever played."

And so began the career of singer-songwriter Crystal Bowersox. She startled and impressed listeners by writing profound songs about mature subjects, things that 10-year olds aren't normally thinking about. Crystal’s mom began taking her to karaoke bars in the area, and by 11, her father became a roadie hauling PA's and guitars, and Crystal was playing Janis Joplin covers at roadside bars with seasoned local musicians (Gray Haired Rocks Stars, she calls them…). “I just knew that all I wanted to do was play music,” says Crystal. “It’s been an unwavering goal ever since I picked up that guitar. I was a wild horse wearing blinders, I could only see my goal in front of me.”

But her home life was anything but idyllic. Crystal and her brothers bounced back and forth from family to dysfunctional family. Crystal remembers raging fights, screaming, drinking and worse, abuse. As a result, much of the chaos she experienced as a child fueled the lyrics to her title track “Farmer’s Daughter.”

"I remember back in High School
My brother's and me
Willy put his head through the door
to find Clarity
you'd come home with bourbon breath
Jack in the air
And When you broke my bones I told the school I fell down the stairs."

"The second verse is about a night she came home drunk, swung a chair, and I blocked with my foot, which then fractured. It’s all true. But I don’t see it as a sad song. It’s a healing song, and that’s because it’s out of me now.”

Turmoil was constantly brewing between households, and always boiling over. Even when there was calm, there was still unrest. “We had a wood burning stove in the kitchen, and some winters we burned garbage or anything we could find. We basically lived in the kitchen because that’s where the heat was,” she says of her Mother's old farmhouse. “We’d just lay a mattress on the floor. I remember one winter, one of our cows came down sick and we had to bring him in the house. We had a cow in the kitchen. Yep, that’s how I grew up.”
At the age of 17, Crystal moved up and out of her little hometown, and out of Ohio. It was then she wrote “Holy Toledo,” referring to the nearby city where she'd spent much of her time. "Holy Toledo," was the only original work by an Idol contestant that ever made it onto the show, and now, it’s on Crystal’s new record. “It’s about holding out for something better,” says Crystal. “I always knew there was something bigger out there for me. That the songs were meant to be heard. Although I was sad to leave, I could never forget what and where I come from.”

Chicago was her destination and during these years is where Crystal claims she really learned to live. She worked random odd jobs, bar-tended by night, and busked in the train stations by day. “I played in the subway out of the love for music and necessity. I was definitely a starving artist,” she says. “But I mostly loved to study everyday people, especially body language and facial expressions. It gave me a chance to try out new material, and see how people react. And when the trains go by, it's just a roar… you have a choice to stop or sing through it. I chose to sing. It’s really where I learned to project my voice. And it will toughen you up real quick. My mom and the subway's where I learned that.”

She eventually became a favorite in the acoustic folk circuit, where she met fellow singer/songwriters and musicians such as the late Mark Brink (who the album is dedicated to), Ryan Suzuka, and her now-husband Brian Walker. However at the time, the father of Crystal's son had split the scene when she was only 6 weeks pregnant. “That’s about the time I wrote ‘Speak Now,’" she says of the ninth track on Farmer’s Daughter. "I was a single mom, but not alone. My friends were amazing helping me out, and Brian Walker and I became close. We’d had always had more than a friendly tension between us. But we were both broke, open-mike musicians, and because of our fears of inadequacy, I was forced to move back to Ohio to rely on help from my family, with the baby and all…so we never took it to the next step, at least then. I was hurt by it. The song is about all the emotions I felt at the time.”

Crystal moved back to Ohio, and went back to playing roadside bars, with her friend and bassist Frankie May (who appears on the albums closing track, "Arlene"). “People had been telling me for years that I should try out for American Idol,” she says. “But I wasn't much of a fan, and hadn't had a TV in years. In my mind, it was a karaoke contest. You get up on stage, you sing covers, and then you’re a pop star. That was never the path I intended to take.”

Crystal traveled back and forth to Chicago, halfway living there for what she thought was a new management and record deal opportunity, but again, it ended up being another dead end. Still struggling to provide for her son, a friend mentioned that there were American Idol tryouts the next day, and she’d certainly baby-sit if Crystal wanted to give it a go. Several auditions and weeks later, Crystal and her guitar finally took their place in front of the ultimate judges panel. “One of the first comments Simon made to me was ‘You don’t look like this is something you would do.’ But life is about survival, and you want to be able to give your children the world,” says Crystal. The show helped catapult her from obscurity to mega-fame overnight, and though Crystal is grateful for the exposure, she’s more focused now on what she gained from the competition as an artist and performer. “I've always known what kind of artist I am,” she says. "But I now know what I'm capable of."
During the American Idols Live tour, the song "Mason," became an actualization. "Mason was born really in the simplest way. You see someone and for whatever reason the chemistry takes your mind to a place in the future and wanting to build a life together, and ‘Mason’ was the thing that stuck out to me. I knew I loved Crystal when I met her," says Walker. It’s a snapshot of where she is today—post-Idol, subway station and wood burning stove. “My husband originally wrote it for me,” Crystal says of the track, who during the recording process, lent lyrics to an additional bridge, then making the song a 'co-wrote' with her spouse. “The words are ‘I wanna be your mason, baby. I want to build a life with you.’ And that is where I’m at right now, I’ve got my son and my husband and we’re never repeating the cycles I went through as a kid. That’s why this album means so much. It’s a way to get it out of me, and to connect with listeners at the same time. It’s a perfect reflection of me, of who I am and where I plan to go.” And clearly, the journey’s just begun.

The tour ended, and the new couple set up camp in Elmwood Park, New Jersey, at a studio where she and producer David Bendeth worked tirelessly. Pianist Jeff Kazee recalls the first day of the studio session, “In came this girl with dreads, looking all ‘earth mama,’ holding a baby rabbit under her arm. She said it hopped right up to her hands in the parking lot… and I was like, ‘Who is this lady???’”

It’s a question a lot of people ask when they first see Crystal, and then hear her amazing voice. Farmer’s Daughter may not unlock every secret behind the anomaly that is Crystal Bowersox, but it does give us a look into where she’s been, and what’s made her into the complex artist she is today. Several weeks and a labor of love later, a devoted group of talented people and musicians have breathed life into the songs that are the definition of Crystal Bowersox. Farmer's Daughter is a piece of the person that she chooses to share with her listeners, and as the pages of Crystal's life unfold, so will her honest and true songs."
This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

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