(River North Nashville Records, 1996)
by Sandra L. Toney
Anyone who watches television most likely knows who Crystal Bernard is -- she's the sassy beauty who starred on the now-defunct comedy series, "Wings." On the show, Helen (the character Bernard played), always dreamed of being a concert cellist, but in real life, Bernard always had dreams of being a singing sensation.
"The Girl Next Door," Crystal Bernard's first release, was classified as country and so, like so many other hopefuls, Nashville embraced yet another talented performer. But Bernard isn't just another "hopeful" and her television stardom hasn't given her any undeserved breaks either. Even if no one had ever previously heard of a young woman named Crystal Bernard, her first album would have turned a lot of heads regardless . . .
Obviously, being a "star" helped getting Bernard's foot in the door, but pure talent is what has sold her albums. "The Girl Next Door" opens with Bernard, as a four-year-old, singing a gospel song at an event. Even then, the outspoken star was a little ham and, hearing that old recording, give you a feeling that this girl is going places. And she is!
Besides her fabulous voice, Bernard also excels at songwriting. She co-wrote several of the selections on her album, including two songs with country superstar, Billy Dean, who also lends his distinguishable voice on their ballad, "Have We Forgotten What Love Is?" Bernard also teams up with David Rhyne in penning "Eleven Roses," the rockin' "State of Mind," and the attitude tune, "Till I Get Over You."
Crystal is equally impressive in her ballads and her upbeat songs. In fact, I usually pick favorites on an album right away but this gave me a difficult time because they were truly ALL good -- all thirteen selections. If I had to pick favorites however, I'd have to go with her opening single, "Could've Been Mine" (which ALL women need to listen to), the ballad, "You're Gonna Miss a Whole Lot of Love" (a must for anyone who's been dumped), and the co-written duet with Billy Dean, "Have We Forgotten What Love Is?"
Without a doubt, "The Girl Next Door" is certainly the best CD to come out of country music in some time. You won't be sorry when you purchase this legend-in-the-making! And, it is more than obvious that Crystal Bernard certainly doesn't need her "WINGS" to fly . . .
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