Crystal Yates (Country from Dallas)
As a child growing up in the tiny town of Niceville, Florida, McKinney transplant and country singer-songwriter Crystal Yates couldn’t avoid the twangy sounds of country music even if she had wanted to. “My mom says I could sing ‘Why Don’t You Love Me’ by Hank Williams before I could say my ABCs,” explains the powerfully-voiced, dark-haired singer.
The EP’s stand-out track, “Let That Record Play On,” is a menacing, blues-inflected number that oozes soul. And the collection’s single, “Goodbye Letter,” which is getting some airplay around the state already, is a delicate, folky, heart-breaking number that serves as a fine vehicle for Yates’ beautiful voice. Song for song, I Believe, is as impressive of an offering as there’s been in the regional country realm this year.
“I love some of the newer songwriters like Brandy Clark and Kacey Musgraves,” she says. “And I’m also a fan of powerful voices like Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston. I want to honor those attributes, but I want to connect with people on a heart level. It’s important for me to deliver songs and performances that touch the soul; that’s why I do this.” She adds, with an innocent chuckle, “I love to make people cry.”
Larry Hooper And The Reserves (from Granbury)
He crafted a collection of story-songs and character tunes that give a nod to his influences while creating a sound that is inarguably all his own. Bluegrass, blues, folk and country all mesh fluidly from the title tracks description of a town with a bleak future after the oil bust to the fan favorite “Background Music” which laments a singer-songwriter who doesn’t mind the apathy until he sees it in the one person that he is really singing to. Another highlight of the album is “Wild Side”, a duet with co-writer Susan Gibson that calls to mind classic parings like Prine and Dement.