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Album review: ‘American Idol’ star Crystal Bowersox shows songwriting skills in ‘All That For This’

Former “American Idol” contestant Crystal Bowersox has moved past the pressure of performing on television in front of judges to releasing two albums and starring in a Broadway musical about country singer Patsy Cline. Her newest album “All That For This” released Tuesday.

Bowersox’s sound on this album comes off as folk rock and blues-inspired, and it is much more upbeat than her previous album, “Farmer’s Daughter.”

The first track, “Dead Weight” is an acoustically-driven piece, with clear inspiration from Alanis Morissette coming through her vocals (Bowersox and Morissette have toured together in the past.) In the song, she tells about a love she lost and how those in her same situation should let go of their dead weight. Backing female vocalists give an added dimension to the piece. Bowersox seems to advertise herself as wise and full of advice for all the romantics out there who have lost a love of their own. Whether this is true is up for debate.

The second track, “Movin’ On,” tells listeners that Bowersox is clearly over whoever she talked about in the previous song. The tune is sensual, catchy and grooves with blues inspiration, particularly with a trumpet line heard throughout the song. Bowersox really croons here and shows off her lower alto range. The track definitely channels Norah Jones’ style of vocals and sound.

“Everything Falls Into Place” is mostly guitar-driven, with Bowersox’s powerful vocals dominating the song. It is mellow and channels a happy-go-lucky-type vibe: “Every turn about the day may bring something more, something found.” 

“Home” takes the listeners back to Bowersox’s roots. “Home is the place where the green grass grows,” Bowersox emphasizes. The track does in fact remind the viewer of a homeland. Trumpets, guitar and a piano melody bring the tune to a feel-good place. The piano solo found in the bridge reminds the listener of children frolicking across the yard on a sunny day, to the “green grass” she mentions. 

“I Am” is a vocally intimate, haunting melody where Bowersox sings about how she feels that she needs to be perfect for others, then she suggests, “look at yourself.” Towards the end of the song, Bowersox sings softly and delicately with an acoustic guitar solo to end the piece.

“Shine” is defined by its barely-there drum beat and Bowersox singing her heart out. As indicated by the title, she makes reference to the gospel children’s song, “This Little Light of Mine.” Overall it has a very melancholy tone.

“Amen for My Friends” is an anthem for anyone who has been helped by friends: “People come, people go. Though things fall short, if I’ll need you, you’ll be there, I know.”

On “Stitches” The Wallflowers’ Jakob Dylan brings a roughness to the vocals of the song. He showcases a manly tone to an otherwise soprano-geared melody. The piano solo in the middle of the track is reminiscent of a ’50s love song. At the end, Bowersox and Dylan sing together: “I’ll stitch you back up like new” – the contrast in their vocals styles gives the listener butterflies.

The final track “All That For This,” shows off Bowersox’s country influence. The twang of the acoustic guitar and her subtle accent almost puts her at odds with Taylor Swift.

The album shows off her maturity as a songwriter and vocalist. While some parts of these songs I didn’t particularly enjoy, I hope she continues on the path she is on, because I cannot seem to compare her to any other pop artist out there. Her sound is folk-driven, but draws inspiration from blues and country at the same time. It will be interesting to see how fans of these various genres will react to those elements being brought together.


Grade: B

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