Back in 2010, Crystal City were a couple/songwriting team from Marshalltown, and they released an eponymous EP of sweet, catchy, melodic songs on the up and coming Sleep On The Floor label out of Des Moines. It was clear they were great performers and musicians, and just generally great folks as well.
A bunch of stuff happened (thanks, life), including a move to Iowa City, and now Crystal City are back, and what a difference time makes.
The team is still solid, and has apparently grown, judging by the songs on the new full-length Crystal City album, “Change.” The duo has grown into a band (at least, most of the time), and the change seems to suit them. The strong vocal harmonies are still there, and Sam (the wife part of the team), mostly on harmonies last time around, is more front and center on some of the songs on this album, which is to its benefit (Dave’s a fine singer in his own right, but the contrasts only serve to augment the songs where they blend their voices together).
Most of the album is a folk/Americana/country/rockabilly vibe, but it’s a fun and loose vibe that sustains it across 11 tracks. The album kicks off with a strong opener, “The Best Way,” that really kicks, and there’s a nice swagger to the lyric “the best way is the hard way.”
Songs like “Dynamite” and “Change” contain the kinds of wisdom that only long term relationships can provide, and it sounds like the couple are still having fun and not taking themselves all that seriously (except when they are).
“Where the Treasure Is” and “Don’t You Know” are beautiful and raw, and sound very much like they were recorded live as a performance. And the way the lyrics on “Pink Bayonet” spill over from one line to the next is pitch perfect, and the mark of solid song craftsmanship.