Yates’ New Record Could Put Her On “The Other Side” Of Country Music Stardom

Courtesy: Awaken Love Music/Press Junkie PR

Courtesy: Awaken Love Music/Press Junkie PR

Country musician Crystal Yates released her latest recording this past May.  The record, The Other Side, is an offering that any country music fan should hear at least once.  This is the case even with the record boasting a grand total of five songs.  Those five songs will move listeners deeply in so many ways over the course of the record’s twenty-one minute run time.  That is thanks to the combination of the record’s musical arrangements and its lyrical content.  From one song to the next this record offers plenty for country music fans to appreciate.  By the time the record ends it leaves listeners with quite the impression.  It is an impression that will leave listeners agreeing that Yates’ could be one of the next big names in the country community.

Crystal Yates’ new record The Other Side is a record that any country music fan should hear at least once.  That is because through the combination of its musical arrangements and lyrical content, it shows her to potentially be one of country music’s next big names.  One of the songs that best exemplifies this is ‘Already Yours.’  This song stands out on Yates’ new record in part due to its musical arrangement.  The song starts out very tentative and slow.  Over the course of its four-plus minute run time it gradually picks up a little more; not so much in its tempo but in its confidence.  Yates’ own soulful vocals echo the power in the song’s musical arrangement, too adding even more power to the arrangement.  The song’s gentle opening and its gradual growth is a direct mirror so to speak to its lyrical content.  That is noted as Yates sings in the song’s opening verse, “If you’re feeling down/And you’re all alone/Then I’ve got a hand you can hold/Put your hand in mine/Let me walk you through/There ain’t nothing that/I wouldn’t do/Don’t you even think/Just call/You ain’t gotta ask at all/If you want my love/It’s already yours.”  McKenzie Smith keeps a solid tempo on the drums, showing that truly talented drummers don’t always have to have machine gun speed beats.  Sometimes it is the ones who play slower and with control who show true skill and talent.  Yates’ gentle approach continues in the song’s second verse.  Though, it is clear as the verse progresses that so does the power in both her Bonnie Raitt meets Susan Tedeschi style vocals and the song’s general musical arrangement.  Ultimately it culminates with that gentle reminder from Yates, “If you want my love/It’s already there.”  All things considered here, this song proves to be one of this record’s best compositions if not its outright best.  It is just one of the songs that proves why Yates could potentially be one of the next big names in country music.  ‘Made To Last’ follows ‘Already Yours.’  It is another of the record’s most standout compositions.

‘Already Yours’ is one of the key compositions included in Crystal Yates’ new record.  That is thanks to the obvious attention paid to detail both in regards to its musical content and its lyrical content, and how the two elements work together.  The end result is a song that is possibly one of the record’s best moments if not its best.  Keeping that in mind, it is not the record’s only key composition.  ‘Made To Last’ follows ‘Already Yours.’  It is another of the record’s key compositions.  Unlike ‘Already Yours,’ this song is a full-on country song.  Its musical arrangement harkens back to the likes of Reba McEntire and Martina Mcbride (the latter of whom Yates has shared the stage).  That is clear not only in its upbeat arrangement but also in Yates’ own vocal delivery.  It presents such a positive vibe from beginning to end.  That alone is more than enough to make this song another hit for her.  The song’s lyrical content is just as certain to make it a hit.  It directly echoes the upbeat energy of the song’s musical arrangement.  This is made clear as Yates sings playfully in the song’s lead verse, “That cat has started getting’ on your nerves/I can’t stand your Nickelback T-shirt/But that’s how it goes/And don’t you know/Falling is the easy part/But when times get hard is when the real thing starts/Real love is not a chance we take/It’s a choice we make/Each and every day/But then what happened happens/I want a love that’s made to last.”  The playful yet straightforward commentary about real love here is certain to put a smile on any listener’s face.  And that line about hating a guy’s Nickelback T-shirt will undoubtedly get more than a few laughs, too.  This is just the start of the positive vibes in the song’s lyrical content.  She goes on to sing, “When people get as close as you and I/You can bet that we butt heads sometimes/But makin’ up/Can sure be fun/You might never clean the dishes up/I’m gonna be have a few bad days each month/But letting go/is how we’ll grow/Falling  is the easy part/But when times get hard/It’s when the real thing starts/Love is not a chance we take/It’s a choice we make/Each and every day/But then what happens, happens fast/I want a love that’s made to last.”  Yates’ reality check goes on from here dispelling the myth about the long white dress, the house and picket fence, etc.  She notes again that what is most important about a good life together is a love that (again) lasts.  It is a statement that rings loud and clear from beginning to end.  When coupled with the song’s upbeat musical arrangement, the song in whole proves to be another great addition to Yates’ new record.  Together with ‘Already Yours’ it is yet more proof of why Yates could potentially be one of country’s next big names.

‘Already Yours’ and ‘Made To Last’ are both key additions to Crystal Yates’ new record.  Both songs stand solidly on their own merits.  This includes both their musical arrangements and lyrical content.  While both songs stand out in their own right they are not the record’s only standout songs.  The record’s closer, also its title track, is one more of its most notable compositions.  This song stands out from the record’s other tracks just as much as they do from one another.  In regards to its musical content, it is a solid, blues-based gospel tune that once again echoes those hints of Bonnie Raitt and Susan Tedeschi.  Yates’ vocals are just as powerful as the song’s musical arrangement.  She sings here about getting to “the other side.”  It is clear here that she is singing about going to Heaven here.  That is especially clear as she sings, “I know we’re gonna pass…to the other shore/Oh, we’re gonna see the lord/I said oh, we’re gonna see the lord.”  She goes on to sing, “Ain’t gonna let nothin’ stop us/From the other side.”  It’s a classic gospel style song at least in terms of its lyrics.  In regards to its musical arrangement, that is not an entirely original approach.  But it is one that is rarely taken by any artist.  The only name that this critic in particular can come up with when thinking of blues-based gospel, is the Blind Boys of Alabama.  To that end, this song is yet another standout composition for Yates’ new record.  It shows just as much as ‘Already Yours’ and ‘Made To Last’ why this young singer-songwriter could very well be one of country music’s next big names.  That is not to ignore the record’s other two songs, ‘Leave Me Alone To Die’ (which is actually about a kidnapping that she personally experienced at one point in her life) and ‘Hell On My Soul.’  Those two songs offer up their own interest to this record, too.  All things considered, this new record may only boast five songs and run twenty-one minutes but it is still a record that any country music purist should hear at least once if not more.  That is because it could be the next step in making her one of country music’s next big names.

Crystal Yates could very well be one of the next big names in the country music community.  She has already made quite the impact with two previous recordings.  Now with her latest record The Other Side she is that much closer to actually making that become true.  That is because over the course of this record’s five songs and twenty-one minutes, she offers audiences so much to appreciate.  Each song stands out from the others both musically and lyrically.  And each one is just as entertaining as the others, too as has already been noted.  From a powerhouse blues-based gospel closer in its title track, to a fun, upbeat song about the realities of marriage, to an equally moving piece about a person’s (likely a woman’s) love for another, and beyond, there is plenty to appreciate about this record.  All things considered, The Other Side could very well be the record that takes Crystal Yates to the “other side” of music stardom.  It is available now and can be ordered direct via Yates’ official website at http://www.crystalyatesmusic.com/merch/.  More information on The Other Side is available online now along with all of her latest news and more at:



Website: http://www.crystalyatesmusic.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/crystalyatesmusic

Twitter: http://twitter.com/crystal_yates



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Strait Rides Away In Style In His Final Live Performance

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Legendary country musician George Strait’s days on the road are officially over. On June 7, 2014, the man known lovingly within the country music world as “The King of Country” wrapped the final leg of his tour fittingly dubbed “The Cowboy Rides Away Tour.” The tour wrapped at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It should be noted that while the show marked the end of his days on the road, it didn’t mark the end of his recording career. Of course Judas Priest’s members said the same thing some years ago and look how that turned out. So time will tell if he has indeed parked his tour bus for the last time. Regardless, Strait’s fans and country music fans in general can now own that landmark concert for themselves thanks to the people at Eagle Rock Entertainment. The leading name in live recordings, Eagle Rock Entertainment released The Cowboy Rides Away: Live From AT&T Stadium late this summer exclusively on DVD and digital formats. It goes without saying that whether one is a fan of the country music royalty, a fan of real country music or a little of both, this recording is a must for each. The central reason for that is the show’s extensive forty-song set list, which runs just short of three hours. Strait’s stage presence and that of his fellow country artists is another reason that fans will enjoy this recording. Last but hardly least worth noting is the concert’s production values. Even on DVD its production values are top-notch. They make the show’s near three-hour run time well worth it both in regards to the show’s set list and the performers’ stage presence. All things told, The Cowboy Rides Away Live From AT&T Stadium proves in the end to be a recording that every George Strait fan will enjoy just as much as any fan of real country music.

The Cowboy Rides Away Live from AT&T Stadium is a must have for any George Strait fan and any fan of real country music. So much can be said as to why this is the case. Jumping right in, the central reason for its success is its extensive forty-song set list. Covering so much ground it can be said of the near three-hour performance that it is one of those rare live shows released in recent years that is truly deserving of being called career-spanning. What’s more the very fact that Strait opted for such a rich set list is in itself groundbreaking. That is because few if any other acts out there past or present have ever released single performance recordings with so many songs. Even acts such as The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, The Who, and others have never released such an expansive single-show recording. That in itself speaks volumes about this recording. That every featured song is a fan favorite says even more. One of the bet of the show’s best is ‘Murder on Music Row,’ which he performs here with fellow veteran artist Alan Jackson. There’s a lot of truth in that song. Real country music is hard to find nowadays. There seems to be more southern rock and pop country out there today than real, pure country. On a different note (no pun intended) ‘I Saw God Today’ is another of the show’s best moments. The tender ballad sung from the vantage point of a new parent will bring a smile (and tears) to every fan’s face. The all-star performance of his classic hit ‘All My Ex’s Live In Texas’ is one more of the show’s best moments. It’s obvious that the performers had just as much fun performing the song as did the audience singing along. What’s more seeing so many great names representing country’s past, present, and future on one stage essentially honoring one of country’s greatest names of all time gives this performance even more of a special meaning. It’s just one of so many examples of the importance of the show’s songs in the big picture of the show’s set list. Of course the songs chosen for this show are just one part of what makes the set list in whole so important to the recording’s overall positive impact. The ordering of the songs is just as important as the songs themselves.

The songs that make up the concert’s set list make more than enough reason for Strait’s fans and real country fans alike to watch this recording. However, they are only one part of the set list that makes it so important to the whole of the recording. The ordering of the songs is just as pivotal to the show’s enjoyment as the songs themselves. Audiences will be quite impressed in taking in this concert to note the balance of its more upbeat moments with its softer, more emotional moments. From one song to the next Strait and company build the show’s energy and pull it back at just the right points from beginning to end. The end result is a near three-hour performance that will keep fans at home just as engaged as those that were in attendance at the concert’s taping. The mix of that smart sequencing with song after song that every fan will enjoy makes this concert one that even being Strait’s last live show potentially ever is one that fans will want to watch again and again.

The set list chosen for Strait’s final show and its sequencing make for more than enough reason for any George Strait fan and real country music fan alike to watch this recording. They are just a small part of the whole that makes the concert so enjoyable. Strait’s stage performance (and that of his guests) plays its own important role in the concert’s overall effect. Throughout the course of the concert, Strait maintains an almost unassuming demeanor. It could be argued that it actually presents Strait as having this full sense of humility. He doesn’t try to run around the stage and put on a certain kind of persona. it is more along the lines of a what-you-see-is-what-you-get persona. It’s nice to see such a humble persona. Believe it or not it adds quite a bit to the concert’s overall effect on fans. By contrast, his guests–of whom includes the likes of Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, Sheryl Crow, Eric Church, Martina McBride and others–are more energetic by and large. The juxtaposition of Strait’s stage presence to those of his fellow musicians makes for even more enjoyment. And when coupled with the show’s set list, both elements solidify the reason for fans to add this recording to their own home DVD libraries even more so. The combination of both elements would mean little, though without proper production values–the last of the recording’s positives.

Both the set list chosen for George Strait’s “final” live performance and the stage presence of Strait and his fellow musicians are equally important to the overall effect of this recording. Of course neither would be of any importance without proper production values. Luckily for fans the production values presented in the concert contained herein are of the utmost expertise. Even presented on DVD, it looks and sounds just as good as being there if not better. That could be chalked up just as much to the equipment at Strait’s disposal as those charged with manning the boards for the show. The same can be said of those charged with the show’s audio in post-production. On the side of the show’s video mix, having a slowly circulating stage could not have hurt the camera crew. On the one hand it offered the camera crew and co-directors Danny O’Bryen and Brian Lockwood plenty of options for good shots. That is because the stage was set dead center in the stadium as if it was set up for the Super Bowl’s half time show. The camera crew could shoot from on stage, from the crowd (especially since the stage wasn’t that high above the stadium floor), and from so many other angles. Having so many options and so much talent, the result of the production crew’s work is a concert that gives home viewers an even better seat than those in attendance from beginning to end. And coupled with an audio mix that is just as impressive, Strait’s performance (and that of his guests) coupled with the show’s rich, expansive set list proves to be a concert experience that is a wonderful final performance from a legendary artist should it in fact prove to be his last.

George Strait’s performance from June 7th, 2014 at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas is largely believed to be the legendary country musician’s final live performance. If indeed it proves years down the road to be his final live performance, then it is a wonderful way for Strait to go out. That is even with Strait claiming that he will still continue to record new music while no longer touring. The show’s rich set list will please every one of his fans as it more than lives up to the honor of being called a career-spanning show. The sequencing of the show’s songs, Strait’s performance (and that of his guests), and the show’s expert production values come together to make the concert whole and one that fans of all ages will enjoy with every watch. It is a wonderful final performance from a legendary artist that even if it is his last, will hopefully not be his last recorded concert to ever be released. The Cowboy Rides Away Live From AT&T Stadium is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

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Stewart Re-Invents Himself Yet Again On His Third Country Outing

Courtesy:  Weapons of Mass Entertainment

Courtesy: Weapons of Mass Entertainment

Dave Stewart has done it again.  The former Eurythmics star has re-invented himself once again on his latest record, Lucky Numbers.  The third of his Nashville records, this record comes across as the culmination of Stewart’s journey into the country music world.  And it goes without saying that if this is the last of his country records, it is his best yet.  The record offers a little of something for everybody over the course of eleven tracks.  The album’s opener, ‘Every Single Night’ is quite the interesting way to kick off this album.  That’s because while it does boast a country element, it’s also slightly tinged with an 80s sound, too.  The addition of country superstar Martina McBride doesn’t hurt the record, either.  And its radio edit, is little different.  It’s just one of the songs that listeners will enjoy on this record.  Just as enjoyable is the semi-bluesy ‘Drugs Taught Me a Lesson.’  This song doesn’t necessarily have a country vibe about it.  But its theme of past drug use set alongside its mid-tempo musical side make it another of the album’s high points.  Speaking of high points, the album’s third track, ‘How To Ruin A Romance’ is one more of those high points.  Its playful energy and equally comical yet true lyrical side will most assuredly have anyone smiling as they sing along.  These are just a few of the most notable of the songs from Stewart’s new album.  For those that want something a little softer, Stewart has a relatively good offering of softer material, too.  Along with the more up-tempo songs, they put Dave Stewart into this critic’s list of the year’s best new records again.’

‘Every Single Night’ opens Lucky Numbers.  This mid-tempo pop country tune is a good re-introduction for Stewart.  It’s quite the interesting opener, too.  It’s light pop/rock vibe conjures thoughts of Phil Collins and certain other well-known acts from the 80s.  That’s thanks to the keyboard and drums that largely drive the song.  Ironically, it’s that same solid drumming that is sure to have audiences at Stewart’s live shows raising their hands and clapping together in time to the song.  Guest star Martina McBride actually serves to make the song feel even more like a pop song straight from the late 80s with her vocal prowess.  It adds a certain charm as the pair sings, “That’s why the rain came/Every single night/Every single night/Like a ball and chain/Every single night/Every single night/I’m never gonna cry again/Every single night/Every single night/Don’t ask me why again/Every single night/Every single night.”  The charm of the duo singing together along with the song’s musical side makes it so easy to close one’s eyes and actually see them singing.  Even images of the pair singing together will come across to some just like a music video from the 80s.  Is that bad?  Not necessarily.  It’s actually somewhat endearing.  And that endearing feeling is the heart of the song.  Stewart and McBride have hit an emotional nerve with listeners that will lead to the above mentioned reactions.

After the feel good vibes created in ‘Every Single Night’, one might wonder how Stewart could possibly follow up that song.  He follows it up by changing things up in every sense of the term.  Instead of offering more of that endearing classic rock vibe, Stewart turns bluesy on the album’s next song, ‘Drugs Taught Me A Lesson.’  He was joined by Vanessa Amorosi and The Ringmaster Chorus on this song.  This is another of those songs that make it so easy for audiences to envision Stewart live on stage, performing the song.  It’s so easy to see the Ringmaster’s Chorus behind Stewart, swaying back and forth, smiling as they sing and clap in time.  The song’s laid back piano riff mixed with its infectious groove laid down by Stewart’s bassist make the song even more fun.  And one can’t forget the incredible guitar work in this track, either.  All three elements together make the song’s lyrical side hit even harder, believe it or not.  That’s because Stewart is singing from the vantage point of someone having gotten past drug addiction.  He sings, “Drugs taught me a lesson/How to lose control/Drugs taught me a lesson/Just how I lose my soul/And that’s one hard lesson to learn.”  It would have been so easy to take a more somber road on this song.  Stewart took chose otherwise.  And it paid off, too.  It shows that there is hope for those struggling to get past drug addiction, and the joy that can result in living a clean life.  So for that, kudos is in order for Stewart and company.

Stewart and his band mates maintain the light hearted vibe established in the album’s second song with the very next piece, ‘How To Ruin A Romance.’  This song just cries country.  It is really the first pure country style song on this record.  Stewart and guest musician Vanessa Amorosi sing playfully about all the ways that people—particularly men—ruin a romance.  From not taking a cue from a woman to passing up the chance to talk to a woman or even kiss her, he and Amorosi outline rather well all the things to not do.  They offer up even more ways that a romance can be romance can be ruined.  And there are a lot of ways to ruin a romance, too, as listeners will find out.  Add in some nice guitar solos and solid drumming, and listeners get yet another enjoyable song from Stewart’s new album.

As one can hopefully tell by now, there is plenty of reason for audiences to applaud Dave Stewart on his latest LP.  He offers much more from which listeners can choose as their own favorite songs.  There is more light hearted material throughout the record as well as more heartfelt material for those wanting to hear Stewart’s softer side.  Altogether, it works to make Lucky Numbers another hit from Dave Stewart, and another album from Stewart that makes this critic’s list of the year’s best new albums.  Fans will get to hear these songs and even more of his material in just a couple of months when he performs at “VaVoom…A Rock and Roll Circus” in Los Angeles, California on Thursday, January 30th.  Tickets for that show are available now and can be ordered online at http://goldenvoice.com/shows/details/?id=245809.  All of the latest information on more upcoming shows and news from Dave Stewart is available online at http://www.facebook.com/davestewart and http://davestewart.com.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Dave Stewart Set To Release Eighth Solo Album This Fall

Courtesy:  Kobalt Label Services

Courtesy: Kobalt Label Services

Dave Stewart’s new album, Lucky Numbers, will be released this Fall, just over a year since the release of his most recent album, Ringmaster General.   It is the third release from Stewart in as many years, and will be the eighth full length solo release for Stewart, who is most well-known for his role of half of the 80s pop act, Eurythmics alongside Annie Lennox.

The first single from Lucky Numbers, ‘Every Single Night’ is currently playing at radio stations nationwide.  It can be downloaded via iTunes now at

Courtesy:  Kobalt Label Services

Courtesy: Kobalt Label Services


A lyric video for the single is set to debut Monday, August 19th.  Fans can expect more of the 60s infused rock sound that permeated Stewart’s previous pair of releases on Lucky Numbers.  Stewart was joined by guitarist Tom Bukovac, drummer Chad Cromwell, bassist Michael Rhodes, pianist Mike Rojas, pedal steel guitarist Dan Dugmore and multi-talented musician Kieran Kiely on Lucky Numbers.  Kiely’s talents included songs featuring her on accordion, flute, and the Irish bodhran drum, which can be heard on the album’s lead single.

Stewart pulled in some big names to provide their talents to his latest album.  One of the biggest of those guests was none other than Martina McBride.  She provided guest vocals on the album’s lead single.  Also joining Stewart this time out were:  Karen Elson (‘Nashville Snow’), Australian pop star Vanessa Amorosi (‘What’s Wrong With Me’), famed Broadway actress Laura Michelle Kelly and violinist Ann Marie Calhoun (‘You and I’), and Lynn Mabry joined by a gospel choir (Drugs Taught Me a Lesson’ and ‘What’s Wrong with Me’).

Stewart shared his insights on Lucky Numbers in a recent interview about the upcoming album.  “The two worlds collide in the most beautiful way,” he said.  “I’m singing one thing in my mind, and they’re playing something completely different, but it works.”

The track listing for Lucky Numbers is listed below.

Lucky Numbers Track Listing

Every Single Night
Drugs Taught Me A Lesson
How To Ruin A Romance
What’s Wrong With Me
Why Can’t We Be Friends
You and I
Nashville Snow
Never Met A Woman Like You
One Step Too Far
Lucky Numbers

Stewart will kick off a tour in support of Lucky Numbers on Thursday, September 12th at the famed Troubador in West Hollywood, California.  From there, Stewart will head overseas to tour Europe beginning Saturday, September 28th in Cologne, Germany.  The most current slate of tour dates is available online now at http://www.facebook.com/davestewart and http://davestewart.com 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.