What Will Crystal Bowersox’s Album Sound Like?

Whether or not Crystal Bowersox delivered the best performance in “American Idol” history, there is one thing that is clear: She is the obvious frontrunner and the favorite to win. She has rarely had a misstep and manages to step up a notch or two with each passing week. And even if somebody like Lee DeWyze comes up from behind to top her in the final, there’s no doubt we will be getting excited about Bowersox’s debut album by the time the holidays roll around.

But what will Crystal Bowersox sound like? Her success on “American Idol” is not necessarily unprecedented, as the show has seen the rise of a handful of singer-songwriter types. The most notable corollaries are probably Jason Castro (and not just because of the dreadlocks) and Brooke White. While Bowersox does play the guitar and has a loose, laid-back vibe, her sound doesn’t quite match the albums put out by either Castro or White (both of which are excellent, by the way). Obviously, Bowersox won’t be making a traditional vocal album (like David Archuleta), a straight-ahead rock album (like Daughtry) or an everything-all-at-once album (like Adam Lambert).

When the time comes to press record with Bowersox in the studio, the result will probably be a combination of the following elements.

Tracy Chapman
It’s the easiest corollary in the universe (and again not just because they both have dreadlocks). Chapman’s mid-period work (which featured unfussy, rocked-up arrangements of her conversational folk tunes) would be a great template for Bowersox to follow. Pair her with a competent producer who will let her flex a little bit, and you’ve got a clean, catchy, sure-fire hit. Bowersox even cites Chapman as an influence, so why not hook the two up?

Joan Osborne
Though she never had a hit as massive as “One of Us,” Osborne has churned out a career’s worth of gritty, blues-based rock that features easy-going melodies and Osborne’s deceptively dynamic voice. In fact, Bowersox should really look into covering a less Osborne track like “St. Teresa” or “Right Hand Man.”

Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
Williams’ work skews more towards old-school Nashville country (something that Bowersox’s work generally lacks — though perhaps she’ll have to break out some twang next week when she takes on a Shania Twain track), but this album (arguably her best) splits the difference between shambling blues, easy-going folk and churning country charm.

Counting Crows
Bowersox told “American Idol” that the first concert she ever attended was a Counting Crows show she went to with her dad. It makes perfect sense, and if Bowersox is looking to expand her sound with the addition of some Byrds-ian rock elements and bigger choruses, blueprints like “Goodnight Elisabeth,” “Holiday in Spain” and “Round Here” would be ideal for her.

Judas Priest
Just kidding.

Ray LaMontagne
Bowersox said that she would most like to meet the passionate, literate singer-songwriter from New Hampshire, and it would make perfect sense to channel his sense of melody and pathos into the proceedings. LaMontagne’s Till the Sun Turns Black track “Be Here Now” would sound pretty amazing in Bowersox’s voice. Get them together now.

What do you think Crystal Bowersox’s album will sound like? Let us know in the comments!