Crystal Shawanda is an indigenous Canadian who grew up on the Wikwemikong reserve on an island in Ontario, Canada. Blessed with a stellar voice that has catapulted her to the forefront of the contemporary blues scene, Crystal now lives in Nashville with her record producer and co-writer husband Dewayne Strobel. The new album CHURCH HOUSE BLUES is her second for True North Records and an incredible followup to Voodoo Woman that I reviewed back in 2018. (The link in blue is to the album on Spotify.)
Church House Blues is part of her continuing evolution from country music to the blues. She initially came to Nashville as a country singer back in 2007 for RCA Records and recorded a Billboard top 20 country hit for them. But, as you can clearly hear when you listen to her, her forte and her heart belong to the blues. She left RCA a couple of years after the hit single and has been focused primarily on the blues ever since.
The first single from the new album is WHEN IT COMES TO LOVE, a pretty ballad that highlights that awesome voice which has both elements of Koko Taylor and Janis Joplin as well as a delicious hint of Patsy Cline. The emotion she invokes as she sings will draw you in and then grab your soul. And there is no better showcase for that than BIGGER THAN THE BLUES and EVIL MEMORY. Another favorite of mine is NEW ORLEANS IS SINKING with its driving clap rhythm and some haunting harmonica. Additionally I enjoyed MOVE ME. HEY LOVE, BLAME IT ON THE SUGAR, and the title cut. Crystal sings my favorite sensual love song of the year so far with I CAN’T TAKE IT….ya gotta give it a listen!!
Crystal draws on her life and the blues as inspiration and gives back to the community both as a singer and a motivational speaker. I wouldn’t mind gettin’ up on a Sunday morning and pokin’ my head into any church in Canada or Nashville that gave the pulpit and stage to Crystal Shawanda for her CHURCH HOUSE BLUES!!
Crystal Shawanda – Church House Blues (True North Records 2020)
Ben Vee is an internet DJ and writer from New Orleans that now lives in Connecticut with his wife Annette. He started spinning records back in the 1970’s and has been writing about the roadhouse blues since 2011. He does two roadhouse blues shows each week on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com and he writes about the blues when the urge strikes on http://www.benveeblues.com.