John Lennon Songwriting Contest
2 songs - 2001
"Gratitude" and "Sing To Me"
Crystin Byrd's songs unflinchingly shine light into dark places, onto wounds not-quite-healed, or gently linger on those times more sweet. Her musical moods range from take-no-prisoners to anabashedly beautiful. Her pure and emotive voice haunts and captivates.
MY SILENCE, her debut album, was recorded with the reknown Larry Crane (Elliot Smith, The Decemberists, Quasi, Sleater-Kinney) at Jackpot! Studios in their hometown of Portland, Oregon. The digital capabilites of lead guitarist, multi-instrumentalist Todd Bayles also features prominently. Two of the songs featured on the debut album have received Honorable Mention in the highly-regarded international John Lennon Songwriting Contest.
"My Silence" features 12 songs from Crystin Byrd's prolific songwritings from a time period in her life when she was facing and healing from the sexual abuse she experienced as a child. "The CD holds together well as a concept album about breaking the silence and using the voice to discover personal freedom," says Marie Schumacher, a fellow Portland-based singer/songwriter who harmonizes with Crystin in the title track. The songs reveal the vulnerable, yet powerful, the sorrowful, and the joyful, while showcasing the full band's exceptional talents. Crystin Byrd's emotional intensity shimmers in her voice, and through her songs, a quality that has repeatedly brought her the attention of a variety of indie filmmakers, including Rolla Selbak, Chris Roy, and Shilpa Sunthankar, for use as the essential backdrop in pivotal, life-changing moments onscreen.
"Gratitude," one of the songs to catch the ear of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, oozes with sarcasm, but learns from itself, while "Forget" reveals the flip-side, the deeper mourning and loss of the one left behind. In "How To Breathe", Crystin Byrd's voice, at times incredibly naked and vulnerable, but becoming stronger as she "learns to breathe," reaches heights, revealing that, indeed, she has. The haunting title track, "My Silence," a simple, yet effective song that features the harmony vocals of fellow Portland-based singer/songwriter Marie Schumacher, builds in intensity, until the bold, and altogether believable claim that the spirit-breaking silences forced upon her are shattered forevermore. It is difficult to pin down the piece de resistance of this album, but perhaps it is "Sing To Me," a heartbreakingly beautiful masterpiece of poetry and strings, featuring the violins of Mary Vander Linden, string arrangements and piano by Todd Bayles. With all the multi-instrumentalists in the band, it is not surprising that unexpected instruments make appearances, for instance, a spinning yellow plastic whirly-gig spins out the tortured longing of "Please Let Me," while an accordion nostalgically seranades in "Windows Down," a song that takes you down a dusty midwestern road of memory.
Her captivating vocals, bold and literate lyrics, and the spirited talent of the band that accompanies her, are beginning to capture the notice of Portland music-lovers, and venue owners. Crystin Byrd has been performing in her home town of Portland, Oregon since early 2003, and currently performs with and Scott Allen on cello weaving warmth throughout the songs, and providing the grounding, sometimes haunting, counterpart to Crystin's voice. Alison Wesley has also been known to add her beautiful flute-playing and harmony vocals. As a solo performer, Crystin's intricate fingerpicked guitar and lyrically pure vocals have been known to move and even startle the unsuspecting audience. "You go to another place, and take us with you," reported a first-time listener. "I cried into my soup, I don't know why," said another.
Influenced by artists like Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Aimee Mann, Over The Rhine, Tori Amos, Ani Difranco, Sarah McLachlan, and The Beatles, Crystin Byrd is a poetic, prolific, and passionate songwriter with a blue guitar, finally setting free her own voice, shattering silences, and relentlessly wrestling the truth into submission through song.
"Your songs and singing inspire me. Sing to ME!"
~Julie Flanders, October Project
"A beautiful piece of work by an especially gifted lyricist who expresses powerful emotions with pure poetry."
~Marie Schumacher, singer-songwriter, conductor of PDX VOX
"Haunting! My God! Tight, Simple with heartfelt wonder- the singer, she's breathtaking! The crescendo of it all to the end - the buildup, it seemed to tug at something deep inside me...no instrument overpowered another it was simply used to create a mood...well, they mooded me!"
~garageband review from Roselle
"Please, Can I Have Some More? This band is solid all the way around and a pleasure to hear. I want more!"
~garageband review from Ccote
"Great voice, super production, crystal clear great values."
~garageband review from Pbook
"thank you. It's nice to hear someone who understands how to manipulate harmonic structure. Great voice, great instrumentation and orchestration. I love the rythmic contrast. Definitely have a great song on your hands and a lot of talent. Extra Credit: Female Vocals, Lyrics."
~garageband review from Westbelly
"Great vocals, great production...we have a winner."
~garageband review from waltzforvenus
"Vocals are superb and the singer has a powerful voice. You've got a contender here... in my opinion."
"I first heard about Crystin Byrd through a recommendation from a friend of mine. I was in search of a band to cover the theme song for the indie film "Making Maya (2003)", and wasn't having much luck. Demo CDs were being sent in week by week by different local artists, but none really grabbed my attention. I was looking for that one voice...one that was beautiful, unique and most of all, real...and I found it in Crystin Byrd."
~Rolla Selbak, filmmaker