Crystal Shawanda Dawn Of A New Day

Shawanda means "dawn of a new day,” so in a sense, the release from this singer-songwriter is a self-titled one. She might seem familiar from appearances on CMT’s Crystal: Living The Dream but it’d be hard to mistake her for any other country princesses out there — the noticeable grit in her voice sets her apart immediately. In some instances it migrates from being a mark of character to sounding slightly laryngitic, but works for the strong tunes that mark the album. Opening track "My Evolution” is an appropriately powerful introduction, crashing the singer onto the stage. Classic country sensibility permeates the record, particularly in the swinging "My Roots Are Showing.” She also does a credible and empowering version of the classic "Your Cheating Heart.” Showstopper "You Can Let Go” tugs at the heartstrings and brings real tears to the eyes. It’s an album full of sing-able, approachable tunes, and stands as a solid beginning to the new day. (Sony)