It has been six years since Crystal Shawanda burst onto the country music scene with her hit single, “You Can Let Go,” and her debut album, Dawn Of A New Day. September 6th, 2008 marked the Grand Ole Opry debut of this Canadian Aboriginal beauty. Fans fell in love with this country sweetheart across the borders. Her story, that similar of many other female artists who travelled to Nashville with a single suitcase, big dreams, and even bigger voices struck a chord and landed her a ton of success. Following the path of many females before her, Shawanda did not give up. Over the years Shawanda has attributed her country sound to those artists she grew up listening to in the living room of her childhood home. Those classics shaped her as she grew and matured musically. Country wasn’t the only thing that played in her house. Inspired by all the music she could get her hands on, Shawanda was also strongly influenced by the Blues. Two studio albums later, these influences are still strong and can be heard on her brand new album, The Whole World’s Got The Blues, released on the 30th of September.
Featuring a musical infusion of blues, rock, country, and Shawanda’s stellar vocals, The Whole World’s Got The Blues is a great listen. In addition to hearing these songs on the new album, I was fortunate enough to catch them live at the famed El Mocambo in Toronto, Canada at Shawanda’s CD release party on the 24th of October. Shawanda is a powerful performer on and off the stage. Humble and talented, Shawanda is passionate about her craft. Never giving an audience less than her best.
“I’m Not Your Baby” kicks things off with a sexy guitar riff, hooking you into the first track. A mid-tempo song, you can tell right from the start this album will give you a new musical listening experience. With sassy lyrics and attitude its a great opener for the album. It sets the tone throughout.
“What You Gonna Do About Me” is a cool and smooth song. It reminded me a little of “Witchy Woman” by The Eagles. It had a slight haunting sound, but the paced remained the same throughout. It is one of those songs you sing, knowing that you will always be on someone’s mind. “You might spend a lifetime, running from my memory” was one of my favorite lines in this song.
“The Whole World’s Got The Blues” is the title track. Inspired by the constant negative events on the news, Shawanda took to music to express her feelings about the daily tragedies we often see when we turn on the TV, open a newspaper, or turn on a radio. With a classic message, this original song by Shawanda brings us together knowing we can all share and come together in dark times.
“I’ll Always Love You” was one of my favorite songs. I am a huge sucker for a love song. Shawanda coveys emotion and power. It is a romantic ballad. “Day after day, night after night, I’ll always love you.”
“Cry Out For More” is one of those we should know better songs. The love story of crying “out for more” when we should be saying no. Shaking off someone when we know they are bad for us. “You just hold me to hurt me, why don’t you just leave me alone” was one of my favorite lines. It has a great tempo and it has some great Tina Turner-esque styling’s to it.
“Fall From Grace” is up-tempo and shows off Shawanda’s vocals. It has some awesome guitar licks and riffs. It’s a story about a girl who knows better than to fall for someone’s games and tricks. “You can keep on falling flat on your face, but see I won’t fall from grace” is one of my favorite lines in the song. I did find myself jumping around while listening to this cut.
“All I Could Do Is Cry” is another one of the slower cuts on the album, but the slower the song, the more Shawanda pours into her performances. This is a classic song about losing the one you love to someone else. Watching from afar and knowing there is nothing you can do but “cry”. This song reminded me of a timeless Janis Joplin tune. I loved playing this cut over and over.
“Pray Sister Pray” is a special song. I loved it because I understood the emotion, power, and reality behind it. Countless women go missing every single year with no rhyme or reason. These women are mothers, sisters, and daughters. No matter what their title, these women should not go missing. Shawanda sheds light on this difficult with a positive message, embracing the power of prayer to bring home these special women. I thought Shawanda articulated this message perfectly. The song has a great beat, and holds your attention to tell you the story of these women.
“Blue Guitar” instantly became a favorite of mine. A song about someone who wants nothing but love from the world. The ability to share music and enjoy the simple things in life is all the main character needs. The lyrics to this song wrapped around me telling this love story. “Find me a blue guitar, one that sings like Memphis” was my favorite line. The lyrics paint such a clear picture that listening you can imagine the whole song playing out in your mind like a movie or story.
“Blue Train” is a funky and another mild-tempo song on this album. A song about lost souls, the song is open to many interpretations. It is one of my favorite performances by Shawanda on the album. It has an eerie sound that is often hard to capture.
I give the whole album credit for having such a consistent sound. Shawanda shows off her vocals, but also shows a ton of growth and strength in her voice. She takes her roots of country music and transplants them in the middle of a fusion of blues, country, and rock influences and creates her original mark in the music industry. Showing the music has no borders. The only thing better than turning the volume up and listening to this album as loud as possible, is watching Shawanda herself perform these songs as loud as possible. Her stage presence is polished, smooth, and her vocals never fail. Check out her website to get your hands on The Whole World’s Got The Blues, and check for tour dates to catch a performance close to you.