Release Date: Dec 14, 2010
Record label: Jive
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter
American Idol goes her own way At this point in American culture, we all know the results of American Idol mean absolutely nothing. Some of the show’s biggest successes (Clay Aiken) and most intriguing performers (Adam Lambert) didn’t even win the contest for their respective years. Likewise, some of its most triumphant success stories during the competition have found the post-Idol music landscape frighteningly deserted (Has anyone heard from Taylor Hicks or Ruben Studdard lately?).
Just as Adam Lambert did during the eighth season of American Idol, season-nine contestant Crystal Bowersox did her damnedest to prove that a performer with an unconventional and potentially hard-to-market POV could succeed on one of music’s most visible stages. And like Lambert before her, Bowersox finished her Idol run in second place, coming up short against a bland, forgettable frat boy with middling guitar chops. Where Lambert embraced the show’s tacky spectacle and ran with it because it worked for his glam impulses, Bowersox was more of a coffeehouse folksinger who often seemed uncomfortable with the show’s intense spotlight and emphasis on pop bombast.
Breathe easy, Bowersoxers: Life in the post-Idol fast lane hasn?t scrubbed the season 9 runner-up of her earthy hippie-chick vibe. But if Farmer?s Daughter feels like one of the most genuine Idol-contestant debuts yet, it?s also one of the dullest, with Bowersox hitting every note exactly the way you expect her to. Only ”Mason” — a lovely Ray LaMontagne-ish folk-soul ballad — gets her out of the blues-bar rut.
“Whatever happened to good old rock & roll” are the first words Crystal Bowersox sings on her debut, Farmer’s Daughter, thereby succinctly summarizing her appeal on American Idol. During season nine of the long-running televised talent show, Bowersox was the earth mother who placed second to Lee DeWyze’s hammy smarm, providing a port in the storm for lovers of good old rock & roll, the kind they made back in the late ‘60s. Crystal’s idol was clearly Janis Joplin -- she auditioned with “Piece of My Heart,” she never strayed far from a throaty blues growl -- which in modern terms translates to something halfway between Melissa Etheridge and Sheryl Crow, two artists whose well-manicured roots rock echoes on Farmer’s Daughter.