Fans of women in Country music who possess big, powerful voices and deliver honest, well-crafted song-writing should definitely take the time to investigate the music of Crystal Yates. This lady from McKinney, Texas comes to the party with both of these attributes and is set to continue her ascent of the Country scene.
Originally from Florida, Crystal had grown up around Country music but had not naturally levitated to performing in the genre, understandably so, when listening to her voice it becomes clear that it would suit a myriad of styles. She has been in the music industry for over fifteen years now and the past five years have seen her performing across the US and Western Europe. 2011 saw the release of her debut album ‘Love Wins’ (available on iTunes UK), classified as ‘pop’ by the digital retailer, its 11 tracks in fact reflect a melting pot of styles. From the ragtime jazzy feel of the opening track ‘No More Sighin’, to the acoustic balladry of ‘Where I Belong’, all the way through to the inspirational pop-flavoured title track. Regardless of classification the album is a strong collection of tracks and well worthy of a retrospective listen.
Last year Crystal stumbled upon a singer-songwriter competition, the Texaco Country Showcase, and whilst contemplating whether to enter had the very same thing suggested to her by a number of those who heard her singing. Taking the hint, and subsequently the opportunity to take part, the singer made it successfully through two preliminary rounds before also cruising through the state round held at the legendary Billy Bob’s Texas. This led to a regional round held in New Mexico, which proved not to be a problem and culminated in the national final in January of this year. Hosted by LeAnn Rimes the final was not only staged at the Ryman Auditorium but was also a nationally televised event. The winner of the 32nd Annual Texaco Country Showdown (previous contestants have included Garth Brooks and Brad Paisley no less) and the title of Best New Act in Country Music was…Crystal Yates.
Since taking home the big prize Crystal has been hard at work on her next album, ‘I Believe’, a Country album (great news!), which is set for release on 21st October. Ahead of its debut we have been able to hear a few of the tracks cut for the new album, which sees the singer team up with producer Charlie Peacock, whose previous credits include working with The Civil Wars and Holly Williams amongst others. The songs we have heard suggest that the album will definitely be one to look (and listen) out for.
Lead single ‘Goodbye Letter’ is a gorgeous ballad, opening with gentle mandolin licks and Crystal’s tender vocals, the track builds to gloriously sweeping kiss-off of a chorus. Thankfully, that mandolin remains a key part of the musical backdrop as does some glorious steel guitar, this is definitely Country music and incredibly accomplished with the singer sounding right at home. ‘Good Thing Going’ is a mid-tempo feel-good track just begging to be a hit on Country radio, tailor-made for the airwaves with soaring fiddle and big electric guitar solo it has all of the necessary ingredients. Add in the playful, ever so slightly sassy vocals from Yates and the listener is left no option but to be swept along by the driving rhythm.
Crystal has a bluesy, sultry tone to her voice and this is well-served on ‘I Believe’, a moody slow-burner of a track, which midway through sees the singer unleash the voice that won her that national competition. A powerhouse of a performance over a sizzling mix of electric and steel guitars, a standout number. ‘Let That Record Play On’ also dips its musical toe in bluesy waters, adding in a swampy southern flavour. Atmospheric harmony vocals, sawing fiddle and a blistering vocal performance from Crystal burn the track in to your mind, where you will hear its title repeated over and over. The last of the preview tracks we have heard ‘Feels Like We’re Flying’ is quite possibly the finest. A stripped down, largely acoustic ballad reflecting on the uplifting power of finding that special someone and the hope for ‘countless more tomorrows‘ together. Proving that she can expertly handle a much gentler offering, Yates gives an enchanting vocal.
Having come through such a rigorous competition to earn the title Best New Act in Country Music it should be no surprise that Crystal Yates is a serious talent. One of the pre-requisites of being a successful Country artist is being able to sing…really sing. There is no question that this lady most definitely ticks that box, from the tracks we have heard it is also evident that time has been spent carefully bringing together songwriting of real depth to compliment that big voice. With less than one month to go until the release of ‘I Believe’ we are really excited to hear the full album, take the time to check out Crystal Yates and her music, and you will understand why.