Crystal Bowersox is a hard artist to pin down. Is she rock, blues, folk, soul or country? The answer is surprisingly simple: Yes. While teetering on the edge of many genres hasn’t helped her gain focused radio air-play, it has helped cultivate a loyal and diverse following since her second-place finish on season nine of American Idol.
On March 25th, the 28-year-old singer/songwriter and her four-piece backing band came to the intimate Ram’s Head On Stage in Annapolis, MD for a passionate performance, where her booming and soulful vocals enthralled the sold-out audience with a set-list heavily drawn from her latest album, 2013’s All That for This. She hit the ground running with the gospel-like “Everything Falls into Place” and the hopeful-sounding “Home.” Later in the show, the crowd roared for slow-burners “Movin’ On” and “Dead Weight” where Bowersox’s powerful voice ripped through the 300 in attendance.
Bowersox also treated the crowd to a handful of songs that she said would appear on her next EP. The songs fit in nice and snuggly with her catalog and were enthusiastically devoured by the enraptured audience. The charming singer even got a few laughs introducing one of these songs (I’m guessing the title is “Now That I’m Gone”) when she said it was about her ex-husband. Unsurprisingly, everyone could relate.
Her most country moments came near the end of the set with a trio of songs, the first being the heart-breaking “Farmer’s Daughter.” While the performance wasn’t as scathing as the one on her 2010 debut album Farmer’s Daughter, the message of growing up and surviving an abusive childhood was powerful enough to elicit a standing ovation. She ended the set with “‘Til The Whiskey’s Gone” (if that’s not a country sounding title, I don’t know what is), a sassy country southern rocker that had the crowd grooving in their seats and probably wishing for a shot themselves. Bowersox certainly wanted one. Upon her reappearance she nicely asked for a shot of whiskey, which she gleefully downed, before playing “Holy Toledo” (another country-ish song off of Farmer’s Daughter).
Bowersox brought it all home by closing the concert with the only cover of the night, a raucous version of Piece of My Heart, which incidentally was the song that got it all started for her on American Idol. Overall, the night was a celebration of a young powerful singer/songwriter finding clarity through honest, heartfelt music. That sounds pretty darn country to me.