Country music fans were first introduced to Krystal Keith during the 2004 CMA Awards. During the telecast and still in her teens, Krystal sang with her father, Toby Keith, on the song “Mockingbird.” Nine years later, Krystal steps fully into the spotlight with the release of her debut album, Whiskey & Lace.
Due in stores December 10, Whiskey & Lace is the work of a confident young woman with a powerful voice. Growing up, Krystal promised her parents that she would complete college before pursuing the family business. A recent graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Krystal held up her end of the bargain and Toby held up his by co-producing the project along with Mark Wright (Gary Allan, Trace Adkins). During the recording process, Krystal’s sterling wedding ballad “Daddy Dance With Me” – a song she co-wrote as a gift for her father – became a viral hit and prompted Krystal’s label to release a self-titled EP in April to help introduce her to fans.
Whiskey & Lace starts with all four of the songs on Krystal’s EP presented in the same order. Toby co-wrote all of these except “Daddy Dance With Me,” and subsequently, his influence is stronger here than on any of the project’s newer material. Krystal leans into the lines on “What Did You Think I’d Do” with a melody reminiscent of Toby’s “God Love Her” while “Doin’ It” makes its mark as a fun summertime anthem with tempos and pacing reminiscent of her father. Krystal spreads out on the album’s back half, however, where she takes chances with a confident and striking voice.
The piano ballad “Beautiful Weakness” showcases a voice that is tender, emotional and able to take on slight technical nuances while gliding over notes. A dramatic love song, Krystal moves up an octave effortlessly in the phrase, a masterful distraction, with a poignant and uniquely country break. On the bluesy spring break tune “Him And This Tattoo,” she reaches and stretches up into melodies before descending back down with the matter-of-fact line, I never wanted anything more off my back than him and this tattoo. Krystal’s vocal control is consistent and dynamic throughout the project as she proves herself to be an incredibly talented vocalist.
The album’s best songs come when Krystal lets her love of the blues take over. Both “Can’t Buy You Money” and “Down Into Muddy Water” demonstrate a natural attraction to minor keys and a singer that knows what she’s doing. Over a horn section and a gospel choir on the latter, Krystal commands the roadhouse number with an assertive force. While the project’s title-track leans into Southern rock territory with some substantially thick riffs, Krystal’s voice bends and aches with minor notes when describing what a single mom will do to put food on the table. She hides behind the whiskey and lace, she sings passionately.
Whiskey & Lace is a strong debut and songs like the current single “Get Your Redneck On” show the sort of commercial appeal that has done so well for her dad. As the daughter of one of the genre’s biggest stars, there are bound to be some preconceptions when fans first give it a listen. However, with a voice as strong as any, Krystal impresses on her first album while showing she’s very much her own woman.
Key Tracks – “Down In Muddy Water,” “Him And This Tattoo,” “Daddy Dance With Me,” “Whiskey and Lace”