Crystal Shawanda

Kevin J. Coyne’s Top Singles of 2008

December 28, 2008 // 14 Comments

Gone are the days where this would just be called the Country Universe’s Top Singles of 2008.   The collective tastes of our writers makes for more distinguished lists, but thankfully, there’s still a place for my personal favorites.   Here are the twenty singles of 2008 that I enjoyed the most. #20: Reba McEntire & Kenny Chesney, “Every Other Weekend” A welcome return to domestic themes, which have often provided McEntire with her best work.   This plays out the like the epilogue to “Somebody Should Leave.” #19: Sara Evans, “Low” Triumph in the face of adversity, as the surrounding negative energy is rejected in favor of a positive and determined move toward the future.  Plus, it’s a little bluegrassy, which just sounds cool. #18: Keith Urban, “You Look Good in My Shirt” Even Conway Twitty wasn’t so good at slipping in mature themes so skillfully.    There are children across the country Read More

Best Country Singles of 2008, Part 2: #30-#21

December 16, 2008 // 23 Comments

The list continues today with the next ten entries, a collection of hits, could’ve been hits and should’ve been hits. Adventurous radio programmers, take note. #30 Little Big Town, “Fine Line” There’s a fine line between imitation and tribute, and Little Big Town lands on the proper side of the balance.  Karen Fairchild steps forward on this flashback to ’70s SoCal country-rock, and her biting, expressive performance matches perfectly with an admonishment of a distant lover. Very fine, indeed.  – BB #29 Willie Nelson, “You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore” This ridiculous but fun single just sounds like a Willie Nelson song. While it’s a 2008 single, it sounds as though it could have been recorded at the height of Nelson’s career. Moreover, Willie’s voice sounds as strong as ever here.  – LW #28 The Raconteurs with Ricky Skaggs & Ashley Monroe, “Old Enough” A thrilling, organic collaboration that sounds Read More

Crystal Shawanda, “My Roots Are Showing”

October 28, 2008 // 21 Comments

It’s been a while since I’ve heard a mainstream country single that really surprised me. This one does. The song combines the basic theme of Shania Twain’s “Any Man of Mine” with the bluesy rollick of Tanya Tucker’s “It’s a Little Too Late,” and the result is a swaggering little sass-fest that sounds like nothing else on the radio right now. There are hitches: the central image of exposed “roots” proves too frivolous to carry the song along the whole way, and as interesting a vocalist as Shawanda is, she sounds a little green behind the mic here, like she’s not yet sure how to harness her massive voice on record. But the funny thing about this single is how it almost seems to be less about the song itself and more about the message conveyed through the combination of sound, style, performance and sentiment. It’s like Shawanda and RCA Read More

The Coping Power of Music

September 20, 2008 // 15 Comments

Back in February of this year, I reviewed “You Can Let Go”, a single by a new artist named Crystal Shawanda.   The song hit home for me, having lost my father to cancer only a year earlier.   I tried to keep a professional distance, and only alluded to this in my review: I knew where “You Can Let Go” was going to end up by the third verse, but I was still choked up by it, as the songwriters painted an achingly accurate portrait. I won’t give away the lyrics here, but if you’ve witnessed this in your own life, you’ll know that the way they describe it is exactly what it’s really like. Ever since that review was published, there’s been a consistent trend in its comment thread.  Every few days, another reader shares their own personal story about losing their father, and expresses how the song has brought Read More

A Conversation with Patty Loveless

September 12, 2008 // 34 Comments

After a three year absence from the country music scene, a revived Patty Loveless has arrived with a brand new album featuring her versions of country classics called Sleepless Nights. An appropriate title, considering Loveless has endured the death of her mother, mother-in-law and the illness of her brother during that stretch of inactivity. But these hard times have moved Loveless to give some of the most heart-rending performances of her career, and in a phone interview from her home in Cartersville, Georgia, she tells Country Universe about her doubts of returning to the music business, her dreams for the next phase of her career and her desire to spread the gospel of traditional country music. Since 2005’s Dreaming My Dreams, you’ve kept a rather low profile except for a few guest appearances. Give us a glimpse of your life in the last three years and why this was the Read More

Crystal Shawanda, Dawn of a New Day

August 19, 2008 // 8 Comments

Crystal Shawanda Dawn of a New Day Crystal Shawanda, a 27-year-old singer-songwriter from Ontario, Canada has established herself as a promising new voice with her first album Dawn of a New Day, a step in the right direction as she challenges for her own place in today’s country music. The album is diverse in its sounds and themes, and echoes her experience as a young woman born on an Indian reservation and trying to make a name and gain fame in Nashville. For the most part, she thrives in this collection of songs. The common thread throughout the album is an appreciation of the past and a certain strength of character through adversity, and Shawanda’s voice ranges from sassy and spirited to wonderfully delicate. The first single, “You Can Let Go,” is a story song that, although predictable in terms of the storyline, is rich with emotion and is an Read More

Crystal Shawanda, “You Can Let Go”

February 1, 2008 // 108 Comments

You don’t hear country voices like this that much anymore. It seems like most women to come down the pike over the past few years have been belting divas are growling redneck girls. Newcomer Crystal Shawanda has a gritty voice that cracks at just the right moments, and she never gets in the way of the song, which is a common rookie mistake. As for the song itself, I’ll just say that even a casual country fan will realize where this is going after the first verse finds a five year-old girl saying “You can let go, Daddy”, as she’s riding her bike for the first time. But a choice was made to go for small, revealing details over big, sappy sentiments, and Shawanda’s heartfelt performance, unaffected and sincere, is a perfect match for such an understated song. I knew where “You Can Let Go” was going to end up Read More