Reviewed by: Lauren Rosier
About seven years ago, singer/songwriter, Crystal Bowersox, was a the runner-up on season 9 of the hit reality show, American Idol. After a few record label changes, Bowersox signed with Shanachie Records in 2012. Now her latest release, Alive, is a collection of work recorded live.
On The Ride, Bowersox introduces you to her bluesy, rootsy voice as well as her ability to take words, turn them into lyrics, and develop a story. She sings about a man “who doesn’t want a new wife” who “still can’t find the last one” and how she doesn’t “give a damn/what kind of saddle he’s on/’cause you can’t judge a man/by leather or chrome/I’m going to ride along with him…”
Bowersox shows her musicianship on “The Ride” through her ability to blend genres of blues, folk, Americana, and roots and pair those influences with her songwriting.
The lyricism of A Broken Wing is relatable to everyone going through trying times in life and it’s songs like these that can provide comfort to those trying to find “beauty in the burden” and realizing that “even on the darkest days/but right now/even though my heart is hurting/all is as it should be/and everything will be alright…”
It’s almost like she strategically reveals her layers with each song. The tenderness and contemporary country vibe of He Calls Me Angel illustrates the human in all of us and how comforting it is to have that significant person in your life that you can always count on to be on your side.
If there’s any song on Alive that really gets at your heartstrings, it’s No Mistake. Bowersox sings “how can a man not call his son/on Christmas Eve/skip six birthdays in a row/you can’t put a band-aid/on that bloody knee/well, I can still hear children laughing/from the playground/across the street/here’s 1700 dollars/just take care of it…” She sings to her son “you were no mistake/you were meant to be here/I was wide awake/when love delivered you to me/everyday you save me/you’re the greatest gift God ever gave me/you were no mistake.”
One of the tracks that stood out to me was Dead Weight. Since this record was recorded live, on this track she gives you sneak peek of what one of her live performances is like, and there’s no way you can deny the artistry and musicianship of Bowersox after listening to this song.
From front to back, Alive is a beautiful collection of songs that illustrate life as it is, and celebrates being alive. One of the most crucial aspects of being a musician is being able to emotionally connect with your audience. With Alive, Crystal Bowersox has achieved the epitome of what music is about, something that you can only find in artists that truly understand the power of music.