94 of 105 people found the following review helpful
Kenny Rogers famously sung about meeting Lucille in a bar in Toledo, but while that story was most likely fictional, Crystal Bowersox really did begin her career playing music in barrooms in the Toledo area of Ohio. She got her lucky break on American Idol, finishing runner-up to Lee DeWyze in the 2010 series. Living in the UK without a TV and not listening to music radio, I was unaware of all this until one Monday when I was looking through that day's new CD releases, saw this one listed and surfed the net for more info. Encouraged by what I read, I decided to buy.
Crystal wrote or co-wrote most of the songs, there being one original that she didn't write or co-write, together with a cover of For what it's worth (Buffalo Springfield). Of course, she sang plenty of covers on the American Idol series (as far as I know, not including For what it`s worth), but this album is mostly about her own songs, many of which appear to be autobiographical.
The opening track (Riding with radio) is a rocking song complaining about the music to be heard on the radio these days. It's not a new theme, so clearly there are plenty of dissatisfied listeners out there. Crystal says in the song that she isn't writing for the radio, so there has to be a question regarding how much airplay she gets in the long term. For this album following her appearances on American Idol, she'll probably get the airplay anyway, at least in America. For subsequent albums, who knows? I do hope that Crystal sticks to what she believes in. Shelby Lynne discovered that it is a hard road to travel, but she is probably happier than she would have been just doing what the music business wanted her to do. It will be interesting to follow Crystal's career, especially given what she said in the song.
The other really angry song here is the title track (Farmer's daughter). Now, I had a lousy relationship with my parents, especially my mother, from as far back as I can remember, but the title track suggests that Crystal's relationship with her mother was even worse. Even without knowing exactly what Crystal had to put up with, I feel her pain. I relate to that song all too well.
Elsewhere, Crystal shows both an independent streak (On the run, Arlene) and a desire for love (Mason, Kiss ya, Mine all mine, Lonely won`t come around). Hold on (about a past love) and Holy Toledo (which finds her dreaming about the future) provide further contrasts. In real life, Crystal got married a couple of months before this album was released, so maybe she's not quite as independent as some of the songs would suggest.
As originally recorded, the lyrics contain two words that are most diplomatically described as earthy. One rhymes with spit (and is used once each in Kiss ya and Riding the radio) and the other rhymes with sucking (and is used in the title track). However, the CD as sold on Amazon is censored to remove the offending word from the title track although the other word has been left unedited. Amazon list the uncensored version as a download in MP3 format. Maybe the uncensored version will one day be available on CD, but I'm not going to worry about that. I just felt that it was important to mention it, especially as the lyrics in the booklet have both offending words crossed out. It seems odd that they crossed out both words in the lyric, but only censored one in the recording.
Crystal's music is best described as pop/rock music with country influences, but even that description over-simplifies it. I'll just say that if you enjoy the music of either Moorer sister (Shelby Lynne or Allison), or if you enjoy Sheryl Crow's music, you might consider giving this album a listen.
67 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2010
I don't get too exited about any of today's new singers. It doesn't matter if it's Rock n' Roll, Country, Supposed Easy Listening, etc. The hype is normally way out of line with what you eventually hear from them. The Rockers are nothing but screamers, and the country, well, isn't "real" country. I'm not a fan of American Idol. But, a friend of mine who watches American Idol, and remembers what a big, big Janis Joplin fan I was told me that I had to see this girl, Crystal Bowersox. So, I gave her a chance, and she blew me away when she sang Janis' "Me And Bobbie McGee and "Piece Of My Heart". I couldn't believe it that this girl was as good as she was. After Janis died, many of my friends, for years, were looking for the next Janis. Not Me. There would never be another Janis. But, after listening to Crystal's new album, "Farmer's Daughter", I honestly have to say that I think she just may have a better voice than Janis. Yeah, I know. There are some of you that are thinking that all Janis did was scream. Well, that isn't true. When Janis wanted to sing a soft Blues song she was perfection.
In my opinion Crystal is the best singer that has ever come out of American Idol. Yeah, I said I don't watch the show. But, I've heard all of the winners some where along the line, and they just don't have the stuff Crystal has. This young lady can sing anything, and you can actually understand her lyrics when she sings. There are a couple of songs on the album were Crystal really Rocks it, "On The Run" and "Kiss Ya", which are great Rock N' Roll songs. But, my personal favorites are all the others, "Ridin' With The Radio", "For What It's Worth",the amazing Farmer's Daughter", her first song, "Holy Toledo", "Lonely Won't Come Around", Speak Now", "Mine All Mine", "Mason", and "Arlene". They are all gems!! There is not a filler on this album, and that is unusual for a debut album.
Considering where Crystal came from in her life, and what she has gone through, it's amazing how she has become the polished performer that she has become. Polished in the sense that she does everything right, but so natural that I shouldn't even be using the adjective "polished". THe reason I say this is that Crystal has that garage band type sound about what she does, and that's a good thing. 99% of the singers you hear today are so developed to the point that there isn't anything natural about them. They all basically sound the same. Crystal doesn't sound like anyone else out there today. I hate to compare her, but she does remind the '60's generation of Janis Joplin more than anyone that has come along in 40 years. She can't hide the influence. And, when you hear her sing the first lines of "Ridin' With The Radio it says it all - "Whatever happened to great ol' Rock & Roll whatever became of Rhythm & Blues n' Soul/I'll do what it takes now cause I just wanna make your mind feel good". Man, that tells her story of where she's coming from right from the beginning of the album.
In closing I will predict that radio will not play Crystal very much. The radio as we know it today. Crystal will have to play the stage, show after show. But, after a little stretch of what eventually made Bruce Springsteen what he is today, will do it for Crystal, also. This young lady is going to be huge!! Just give her time, and do yourself a favor. Give her a listen. You won't regret it!!
61 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2010
I have had a passing interest in American Idol. Watched David Cook intensely, otherwise pretty casual. Old guy, grew up with the rock that is now classic. Enjoy contemporary country. Was vacationing at Cedar Key, Florida playing 500 with friends with the minimal tv in a minimal room tuned to Idol back in March. Hadn't watched a minute of it that season so far, hate the foolish part. The women were heading towards the final qualifier and it was all pretty much the same. Then in the background a Tracy Chapman cover and I was stopped in my tracks. Since that moment, I haven't a good reason not to surround myself in this extraordinary artist. Crystal's story, the stuff of legends, is well told. How many artists thank the Chicago Transit Authority or the people who have harmed them on their liner notes?
Above all there is and always has been that voice...pretty, powerful, passionate...when it is front and center, there is nothing like it. Listen first to Mason with husband/friend Brian, then the title track, then the Buffalo Springfield cover, then Holy Toledo. Stay focused on Crystal's voice, let it move you. Get lost in it. There is nothing else you have ever heard quite like it.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2010
Actually yes!!! Crystal's "Farmer's Daughter" left me speechless. I knew she was alt-country from the get-go and she reminded me a LOT of Tift Merritt, as well as Shelby Lynne, her sister Allison Moorer, a drop Patty Griffin, a tad Bonnie Raitt, and more than a little Janis Joplin, people who combine alt-country, powerpop and southern soul, with a dollop of gospel and blues. I heard some of her demo clips online, of her self-penned memoir tunes "Farmer's Daughter" and "Holy Toledo" while she was on the show, and I was like, man, this girl is the real deal...perfect for alt-country gigs and Lilith Fair, but she was on the Idol's Live tour instead, and I was hoping her momentum would not be lost and I hoped she would reach her true audience, and Idol/Live was not it...so I was concerned for her career. I also heard horror stories of how good Idol contestant winners' records were ruined by the powers-that-be, that Crystal would be COMMERCIALIZED, god forbid.
What I was worried about was if she was truly able to have creative control, as she is a talented/gifted songwriter with a great HONEST alt-country vision, and commercialization would have ruined her record and her career. I saw that "Farmer's Daughter" was mostly sole Crystal-penned tunes (8 of them, 9 if you count the iTunes bonus track, which I haven't heard yet), 2 co-writes (1 with David Ryan Harris who is really good, I heard some of his stuff in the past, and 1 with her husband...turns out it was his song, "Mason", he wrote it for Crystal, but she added stuff to the bridge, making it a co-write), and 2 covers (1 was Steven Stills'/Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" and the other was a contribution, "Hold On", by Idol's Kara DioGuardi and, gulp, Chad Kroeger from Nickelback...I HATE Nickelback with a passion, so I was worried about that song, fearing that it was a sellout song, forced upon her as 19 said "OK, we'll LET you do all your songs, but you have to do this one as a compromise").
Well, I popped on "Farmer's Daughter" and I was happily relieved. Every Crystal song is great, the BS cover was actually fine, fun and decent, and the Kara/Chad cover was actually a lovely, moving song that Crystal put her life experience and wrapped her voice & style around...it actually doesn't sound like hackwork!! Crystal can plop herself proudly beside the best current, NONcommercial and unique alt-country singer/songwriters such as, like I said, Tift Merritt, Shelby & Allison, Patty, Ryan Adams, Band Of Horses, Brandi Carlile, Hayes Carll, Carlene Carter, Rosanne Cash, Shaun Colvin, Natalie Merchant, Cowboy Junkies, Hope Sandoval, Delaney & Bonnie...I can go on and on. There was also this Canadian girl named Luba from the 80s/90s who, after a bus crash claimed her band, except for producer Daniel Lanois...who was in her band back in the day...changed her sound on a comeback record and it sounded like Crystal's "Farmer's Daughter".
I was also a tad unnerved when I saw there were 2 versions of the album...censured and uncensured, and my local BestBuy only had the regular version...I forgot about this...and I was like, uh-oh. I heard 1 cuss word, which was fine by me, saw the crossed-out words which I thought was actually funny...but on "Ridin' With The Radio", I saw the words actually were "I Ain't Writin' For The Radio" (I was like YEAH, love her attitude, her view of radio sucking and good music being lost!!! I was happy she was NOT going to be made to be bad commercial radio music!!), but hearing the record, those words were changed to "We're Ridin' With The Radio", which are OK words, but I was curious if the ORIGINAL anti-radio lyric is on the uncensured version??? I would buy that download version off of iTunes for the bonus track and unedited words as well.
Otherwise, and as it is, everything is fine, this album is terrific, possibly even a masterpiece...ironic that she never got to release a record before Idol, as deals fell apart one by one...I'm just happy she never gave up. I'm happy Crystal was able to be honest and unvarnished...I can imagine the fights at the record company!!! Stubbornness is key with art...her songs were worth fighting for, and I loved how she called the show's rules out saying she does originals and the show only allowed covers!!! I was like, go Crystal!!! The album is not overproduced, it's not slick, it's rough & tumble twangy and honest and soulful. It rocks in places and tears your heart out in others. I'm just happy that Crystal was able to endear herself to the hearts of millions...I just hope those people buy her record. She's brave, this record is brave and I'm happy that the record company was able to see past sales-driven shallowness and see that that type of treatment would only hurt Crystal and her career, as she's based on stubborn honesty and she's a gifted songwriter. I played the album twice through in a row, and my jaw hit the floor on the album both times...even her husband, Brian is great...their duet "Mason" is a great song and they sound sweet together, like true soulmates. I love it all.
Hands down, best debut album of 2010. This proves she should have won Idol, the suits may have won the battle...fixing the results that Lee won the show...but with this album, "Farmer's Daughter", Crystal threw down the gauntlet and she won the war.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2010
Crystal has been very clever and calculating on this album (IMO) with the track selection and sequencing . It is a wonderful introduction to who this talented singer/songwriter is, and from where she came. With it, she gives an in-depth testimonial to her experiences and musical influences that have shaped her. The collection of tracks touch country, rock, funk, pop, gospel and soul. After listening to this debut CD, I have to wonder if there is no genre of music that she can't make well. Since it seems somewhat of a throwback album, sound-wise, it was interesting how refreshing, but yet familiar, to hear something different than today's mainstream music. There truly is something for everybody to like on this CD, but for me, it is one of the few albums I have bought in the last decade that I can truly say I like "every" song. But if I had to pick my favorites, they would be Speak Now, Holy Toledo, Farmer's Daughter, Mine All Mine, Kiss Ya and Arlene. I've been Crystalized!
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2010
If I had to picture what a Bowersox record would sound like, then this would be it. Having solo writing credits on most of its tracks, this album truly is a reflection of Bowersox's sound. She didn't compromise and made the record she wanted to make. The result? A very strong album. Stand out tracks are the passionate first single Farmer's Daughter, Holy Toledo, Mason (a duet with her husband), Arlene and For What It's Worth. If you were a fan of Bowersox on Idol, then buy this record. You won't be disappointed.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2011
Unlike artists who tour for years to build a fanbase and figure out what works and what doesn't, Crystal Bowersox was introduced to most of America by singing both her terrific wheelhouse roots rock and a range of covers on American Idol, where she was last season's runner-up. She then went directly from a prepackaged Idols cash-in tour into the studio to record Farmer's Daughter in mere weeks, with a producer and record label more accustomed to contemporary pop. The resulting CD has Bowersox singing in a variety of different styles, most of which work well for her. There's a bit of rock here, blues there, and some more pop-oriented songs. As other reviewers have said, Bowersox has the makings of something special. She has a beautifully expressive voice and remarkable ease of phrasing, and her ability to both whisper confessionally and reach for the rafters with screaming high notes gives her the makings of a major future talent. When she belts out "I wanna know how the hell do I get to heaven from here" in "Holy Toledo," the hair on the back of your neck sticks up. Fortunately for her, she was also no newcomer to music suddenly thrust into the spotlight by Idol. Her years busking in the Chicago subways and toiling away in small clubs yielded several original songs (especially the title track and "Holy Toledo") that speak emotionally to the listener. The pretty "Mason," a love song duet with her husband Brian Walker, will soon be coming to a wedding near you, and "Ridin' With The Radio," a rollicking kiss-off of today's playlists, could slot in easily on country radio. "Speak Now," a bluesy stay-with-me number, is truer to Bowersox's Joplinesque formula than perhaps any other number on the CD. As one might expect from a record turned out so quickly, it is not perfect, but even the less memorable songs ("Kiss Ya," "On The Run") let her show off her blues belter-ish vocal chops. The cover of Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" is well chosen, but its production overwhelms Bowersox's voice. On the whole, this is pretty darn good for a record made in haste. Farmer's Daughter sounds much more like a "first take from an emerging star" than a "paint by numbers CD from a hit-oriented machine," and its minor inconsistencies are easily forgivable. It's not a great record, but a very good one. Because it is largely true to Crystal's vision, it's easily one of the best debut CDs ever from Idol. While Crystal Bowersox may not bring back the singer-songwriter genre all on her own, don't be too surprised if down the line we are speaking of her in the same breath as the other megastars whose lucky breaks just happened to come on a reality TV show.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2011
Crystal sold me when she did the falsetto trill in that one song in the American Idol competition I always thought was death to a good singer..."Natural Woman". That was perfectly timed and the rest of it flowed perfectly, and the song got new life with her version (with the help of the rest of the competitors who realized on the spot how good she was). Then I listened to her youtube originals. I liked them a lot, except for the six stringed bassist who didn't know that less is more. Now she is fully produced, with this album, and out on the competitive market. And what I had hoped would not happen happened. She got overproduced. Like Eva Cassidy she does have the voice to carry an entire production, but what they did with her is hodgepodge so much background into her songs hat they lost far too much of her originality...her voice. It is buried in a sea of ear candy stuff. While reading the words and following along, her songs are very well written, but whoever advised her to blow up the productions with so much fluff needs to be fired pronto. She's got what it takes to make it without the fluff...especially without the fluff. A great singer can carry her/his weight without accompaniment. She can. No need for the huge help going on. Less is more when involving real talent.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2010
Crystal Bowersox just established herself as a national treasure. Her voice is no stranger to the American TV-watching public, but on this collection she never sounded better. Clear, upfront, and powerful vocals, she has an acoustic rock sound that's reminiscent of something between folk-rock and honky tonk. She's already been compared to Melissa Etheridge and Janis Joplin, and while those are meant as compliments, it just doesn't come close to the capturing the way this singer-songerwriter can turn a phrase. She's been places most of us haven't, endured backbreaking hardships, and it reflects in each original on the album. While some of the songs are about abuse, struggling to survive, the famous breakup..there's something inspirational and uplifting here I haven't experienced in pop/rock music in years. The two non-Crystal penned songs, Stephen Still's "For What It's Worth," and the Kara DiGuradi/Chad Kroeger ballad "Hold On" are a great fit for the overall feel of the album.
I had previewed the entire album online before it was released, and am listening now again as I write this..for the tenth time. Adam Lambert and many of the other Idol vocalists like Kelly Clarkson, while talented beyond belief, have one or more albums to their credit that are over produced and loaded with songs that were written by someone else. The big difference here is Crystal's musicianship and experience (both life and muscial) is - gladly - in your face and oozing from every measure, note, and beat of every song. And the recording and production is clean, close, and clear.
Folks - there's not a bum song on the whole album. I am 53 years old, and listen to as much jazz, country, and classical as pop and rock. My vote for the best album of the century. Farmer's Daughter is a good investment. Bowersox just took her place with the likes of Tracy Chapman, Joni Mitchell, Alison Krauss and Bonnie Raitt as one of the most important female vocalists in years.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2010
I'm one of the people that followed Crystal on American Idol. I didn't vote for her, however. So, don't write me off as a rabid fan supporting my fave through her first album release. This is just a great album. It is very rare, in my experience, to enjoy every song on an album, but I am hard pressed to find a flaw in this debut.
I suppose I am not a fan of the sound mix which seems to have given a lot of bias to the lead guitar. I had to adjust my Media Player equalizer to bring Crystal's throaty vocals to the front. Once I did that the beauty of the songwriting shined through. I tend to be impatient with cookie-cutter sound and most albums annoy me around song six, but just as I started getting a little tired of the hillbilly rock, they hit me with something gospel-tinged and soulful like "Speak Now."
To show you how serious I am about this review, I am buying three more copies of this for other members of my family, including one for my brother who is a professional blues guitarist and songwriter.