‘Farmer’s Daughter’ CD shares Bowersox’s life storyWritten by Kristen Criswell | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Win ‘Farmer’s Daughter’
Culture Clash Records and Toledo Free Press are offering a chance to win a free copy of Crystal Bowersox’s debut CD, “Farmer’s Daughter.” E-mail “Crystal” to letters@toledofree press.com by noon Dec. 14 to enter.
Culture Clash Records, 4020 Secor Road, is hosting a release event for the CD from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 14. According to Culture Clash Records owner Pat O’Connor, the record store will sell the CD for $9.97. Representatives from Culture Clash will also visit Papa’s Tavern to sell CDs and listen to one of Bowersox’s mentors, Ron Rasberry. Individuals who purchase a CD will receive a free promotional poster of Bowersox. For more information, call Culture Clash Records at (419) 536-5683.
The “American Idols Live! Tour” is over, but Elliston native Crystal Bowersox has not slowed down.
The 25-year-old has performed on behalf of several causes, was married, recorded her debut CD, “Farmer’s Daughter,” and moved into a new home.
“It’s been a little crazy. I’ve been very busy,” Bowersox said in a phone interview with Toledo Free Press.
On Dec. 14, “Farmer’s Daughter” hits shelves across the country. The album is a snapshot of the “American Idol” runner-up’s life.
“This is my diary. My life. My thoughts about the world, love and family,” Bowersox said.
Bowersox, who before signing with Jive Records, said she was holding out for a deal that would allow her to record her original music, wrote or co-wrote 10 of the album’s 12 songs.
Originally the album’s first single was slated as “Hold On,” written by former “Idol” judge Kara DioGuardi and Nickelback singer Chad Kroeger, but later Bowersox made the decision to change it to the title track.
“I wanted my first single to say, ‘Here I am. This is my story. You might not want to hear this, but it’s the truth,’” she said. “While ‘Hold On’ is a good song, [‘Farmer’s Daughter’] represented me more than it did.”
The song “Farmer’s Daughter” was written by Bowersox pre- “Idol.” It has a darker theme than the rest of the album, dealing with the issue of child abuse.
The song is an autobiographical account of the physical abuse Bowersox suffered at the hands of her mother, but Bowersox is quick to say her mother isn’t a bad person and the pair share a relationship today.
“My mom had it tough growing up, too. She was a single mom with three kids and she was pretty broke and couldn’t afford child care. She self-medicated and it turned to darker things,” Bowersox said. “Like any parent, she did the best she could. ‘Farmer’s Daughter’ was written in a moment of anger and is a pretty brutal song. She isn’t a big fan of it. But it’s important to know my mom loves her grandson and her daughter.”
In addition to “Farmer’s Daughter,” many of the album’s other songs were written pre- “Idol,” Bowersox said.
“Holy Toledo,” which was the first original song by a contestant featured during an “American Idol” season, is included on the album.
“‘Holy Toledo,’ the demo version, was just me and Frankie May. We did what we could for it just being the two of us,” she said. “Having access to the studio and studio band allowed all the things that have been in my head all these years to come alive. ‘Holy Toledo,’ I feel like it’s epic. I hope when people hear it they can retain the hope they had when someone in their home-town was doing well.”
Many of the other pre- “Idol” songs were written for Bowersox’s new husband Brian Walker, she said. “Kiss Ya” was written when Bowersox first had a crush on Walker and “Speak Now” was written for him right before her return to Northwest Ohio in 2009.
“I wrote a lot of songs for him and he wrote a lot of songs for me. Our songs were our love letters,” she said.
The pair performs a duet, “Mason,” on the album.
“He wrote ‘Mason’ before we got together, but the bridge originally wasn’t in the song,” Bowersox said. “We went into the studio, toyed around and made it into what it is now.”
Other songs featured on the album are a cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What it’s Worth,” and “Arlene,” written for the “American Idol” tour bus driver, Bowersox said.
In addition to recording music, Bowersox has used her new fame to promote causes.
Bowersox participated in the 12th annual Power to the Peaceful Festival in San Francisco and shared the stage with Melissa Etheridge at Pinktober to promote breast cancer awareness. Most recently, Bowersox opened for The Doobie Brothers at Concert for Kids, which benefits Toys for Tots.
“Everything I did was for things that were important to me or people I love,” she said. “The [Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund] is a personal thing of mine because I have diabetes. Pinktober — Melissa asked me to play with her. She’s been nothing but kind to me, a very good mentor and I consider her to be a good friend.”
In October, Bowersox shared her personal story with the public when speaking out against bullying. She wrote an essay about being bullied as a kid and appeared on “Anderson Cooper 360” to talk about the issue.
“It’s a touchy subject and I was really frightened to talk about it. I had to write the essay for CNN when my family was asleep because it was something really emotional for me,” Bowersox said. “Too many people check out way too soon and that should not happen. Ever.”
Despite the many changes during the past year, Bowersox considers herself to be the same person she’s always been and considers herself a true rags-to-riches story.
“Not rich financially, but rich as in I no longer have to worry about things I used to,” she said. “I don’t have to eat out of the garbage, I don’t have to beg for insulin or baby formula. It’s an amazing feeling to know my son isn’t going to have that life,” she said.
CD review: Crystal rocks on ‘Farmer’s Daughter’
With the opening guitar riffs and pounding drums of “Ridin With the Radio,” which kicks off Crystal Bowersox’s “Farmer’s Daughter,” it’s clear you’d better buckle up because the singer-songwriter is going to floor it.
Whatever happened to good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll
Whatever became of rhythm, blues and soul
I do what it takes now cause
I just want to make your mind feel good
The s*** that they play now,
oh it just don’t feel like it should
So open your heart, open your mind
Turn down the hate, turn up the kind
Give me some shelter, show me some love …
MamaSox will feel lots of love with her solid debut produced by David Bendeth, who has worked with Paramore and Breaking Benjamin. The “American Idol” runner-up wrote or co-wrote 10 of the 12 songs on the disc.
She includes one cover, Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth.” Her strong, heartfelt voice carries the 1967 classic written by Stephen Stills. (Coincidentally, the cover of her disc is reminiscent of Springfield alum Stills sitting on a porch with Graham Nash and David Crosby for the trio’s 1969 debut.)
The Elliston native also sings “Hold On,” a slower, radio-friendly song written by Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger and former “Idol” judge Kara DioGuardi.
Back behind the wheel, Bowersox surprisingly turns down pop street with the upbeat “Lonely Won’t Come Around,” which could receive lots of airplay.
The 25-year-old slows it down and changes the mood on “Farmer’s Daughter,” which details growing up with child abuse and “mommy dear.” And “Holy Toledo,” a reflective song that was played on local radio and featured on “American Idol,” feels fuller with drums and electric guitar.
Bowersox heads out into the country with “Mine All Mine,” a sweet, simple track that starts with her singing over an acoustic guitar:
Baby, don’t buy me flowers, don’t buy me sweets
Don’t get me useless little things,
they don’t make me complete
I don’t want your money, honey, Lord it’s kind of funny I just need your time
And to know that your sweet love is mine all mine
Mine all mine, baby, are you mine all mine?
In the song, complete with honky-tonk piano, she drops a Johnny Cash tribute: “Boy, cause I am your fool, for you I’d walk the line.”
Bowersox shifts gears effortlessly, playing blistering rock tracks “Kiss Ya” and “On the Run,” before easing off the accelerator and cruising into a storytelling zone with “Arlene”:
Cause Mama and Daddy taught me good
Gotta work hard like a woman should
I just deal with the hand I’m dealt
If you want it done right, Arlene, you’ve got to do it yourself
The only time Bowersox stalls is with “Mason,” which she wrote with her husband, Brian Walker. While the track pays tribute to her blue-collar roots, it’s hard to overlook the corny lyrics that include the chorus: “I want to be your mason, baby/ I want to build a life with you.”
With “Farmer’s Daughter,” it’s clear Bowersox is road-tested and ready to roll. — Vicki L. Kroll