Chrystal Rucker
You Deserve

Combine the talents and influence of Sara Jordan Powell, a bit of each of The Clark Sisters AND Vanessa Bell Armstrong, a smidgen of Tramaine Hawkins and Lynette Hawkins, add the "preach" part of Yvette Flunder (think of the end of "There's Power") and shake well. The end result is Chrystal Rucker.

To say that Chrystal Rucker is a power vocalist is an understatement. For all the latecomers who have never heard of her, You Deserve, her national debut release CDfor Earnest Pugh's EPM Music Group label, wastes no time in defining who she is. (Maybe the CD should have been named "This Is Me".)

"Come Bless His Name" opens the set and Rucker delivers the goods in pure Rucker fashion. After that, the experience goes to no-holds-barred. She launches into the title cut, "You Deserve", which would attempt to fool the listener as it begins in stealth mode (sweet and melodic), but be forewarned, by the end of the song it's an all out go-for-your-own-and-get-it-in.

Producers Pugh and Keith Williams are sharp enough to note that people could never be content with the original three minutes, so they aptly provided two minutes more. Adding to the foray is Rucker's interpretation of Walter Hawkins' "Changed". To her credit, she can preach in the middle of the song and close with a run that will leave the listener in awe, asking "Now, how did she do that?" And imagine, all of this is just in the first four tracks.

Chrystal Rucker pays homage to her church upbringing with the "Hymn Medley" consisting of "Grateful" and a chorus of "Great is Thy Faithfulness" and the project closes with a very definitive interpretation of the CCM infused "You Will Be My God".

Notably missing from the project is "Surrender" (from her independent release). All in all, Chrystal Rucker takes you on a joyous celebration of her faith and trust in God. By the end, you are a devoted believer and an ardent fan.

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Production: Earnest Pugh, Keith Williams
album release date: August, 2012
EPM Music Group

— review by Gregory Gay

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