Powerhouse Country and Americana artist Crystal Yates will release her third album, The Other Side on May 20, 2016. Inspired by classic country singer songwriters like Merle Haggard and Motown artists like Etta James, Crystal Yates infectiously fuses soul, country, and rock into an emotional landscape on her new album. The Other Side is a compilation of songs that are true stories about overcoming struggles and offer the listener understanding and hope.
Crystal Yates and her multi-instrumentalist husband Will Yates started recording the album in January 2016 in Denton, TX at Redwood Studios owned by drummer and producer Mckenzie Smith. Crystal recalls, “We’ve been friends with McKenzie Smith for quite a while now, and really loved his work with St. Vincent, Sarah Jaffe, Gungor, and lots of others. As we were finishing these songs, his name kept popping into our heads, but we weren’t sure if he would want to take on a country/Americana project like what we were thinking. So one day we just asked him about it, and he was really enthusiastic about the idea. It was great because he is such a gifted drummer, but he really got into the producer mode behind each of this whole project and called in just the right players. From the first day of recording, we could tell this was going to be something magical.”
During the recording session for the title track, Crystal says, “I kept trying to describe the big boomy stomp sound I wanted to hear in the song somewhere..but I didn’t know exactly how to relay that into words. McKenzie went over hit a couple of his drums, but that wasn’t quite it. Then he and Will went over to one of his drum road cases and stared at it for a bit..like they were thinking the same thing but neither of them said a word…and then emptied it out and gave it a whack…and that was exactly the sound I was hoping for.” “The Other Side” is full sounding new country rock infused with spiritual themes, an anthem that resonates victory and triumph.
Most notable is “Leave Me Alone to Die,” an emotionally moving and heart breaking song. In this song Crystal’s powerhouse vocals sing an overpoweringly gripping song about when she was kidnapped as a young child. Remembering the words of her Grandmother, Crystal began to pray to Jesus aloud as her kidnapper was undressing in the woods nearby her childhood home. The kidnapper became agitated when hearing her pray he asked her if she wanted to go home and let her go. “Leave me Alone to Die” resonates her mindset from this scary event.
“Already Yours” is throwback sound to Motown, this rhythm and blues song oozes soul with Jon Christopher Davis on backup vocals. Crystal Yates vocals hold true to her influencers standing her own with the likes of Etta James, Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin. During the recording process for this track, Will remembers, “There’s an old Baldwin upright piano at the studio that we had thought about using for the song Already Yours, but everyone agreed it just doesn’t hold its tune very well. But the more I banged on it the more I really loved the vibey feel it had. So when it came time to record for that song, I brought in a piano tuning kit I had, tuned up just the specific keys I would be using and gave it a shot. Everyone loved it, and that’s how we wound up recording that song..record one take…stop, retune….record another take..stop, retune, etc.”
Crystal Yates elegantly presents a wide range of influences on this album; none more predominate than “Hell On My Soul.” A twangy mix of traditional country with vocal harmonies by fellow co-writer Kylie Rae Harris. Longtime friend of Crystal Yates, Kylie Rae Harris met with Crystal in Nashville to help work on the track, Crystal says, “I had the general idea in my head for a while, and I had a co-writing session scheduled with Kylie Rae Harris in Nashville one day. I had several things I was going to bring to the table to see which one we wanted to chase down, but when she arrived that day it was obvious to see that she had been having a “hell of a day”..so I knew I needed to bring Hell On My Soul for her to write on.”
For Crystal Yates, The Other Side is not only musically close to her heart but also, the most collaborative release to date. Working with such names as, Mckenzie Smith on drums, he also was a co-producer and mixed the album, and Joey McLellan played electric guitar, both from the band Midlake. Hank Early from Turnpike Troubadours plays steel. Kylie Rae Harris co-wrote “Hell on My Soul” and sung backing vocals. Scott Lee plays bass. Lindsey Duffin played fiddle in Made to Last. Jon Christopher Davis sang backing vocals on Leave Me Alone to Die and Made to Last. Jordan Martin was the engineer, and Kim Rosen mastered the album.
Crystal Yates, who was crowned the national winner in the 2014 Texaco Country Showdown, the longest-running music competition, saw her last album I Believe produced by Charlie Peacock (The Civil Wars, Holly Williams) rocket up the iTunes charts debuting at #13 on its release day. Since then, she’s had a more than full schedule; touring across the US and opening for and performing with dozens of artists such as Martina McBride, Joe Ely, John Conlee, Suzy Bogguss, Sam Baker, Deana Carter, and many more, as well as performing at renown venues such as the Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, The Bluebird Cafe, and the Ryman Auditorium. Crystal Yates will embark on a national and UK tour in 2017.
Leave Me Along To Die
Made to Last
Hell On My Soul
The Other Side