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Sara Evans

Slow Me Down – 2014 (Sony Music Nashville)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Sara Evans

Once upon a time, circa 1997, Sara Evans was a dyed in the wool traditional country singer. "Three Chords and the Truth" was the most appropriate title of her debut. But times and styles have changed in the country music world. Seventeen years later, not only is Evans not traditional sounding, she also doesn't particularly heed her own advice from the title. And that means she pretty much maintains a fast, big sounding, pop approach to the 11 songs, three songs which she co-wrote.

Evans remains in very strong vocal form with producer Mark Bright and Evans (she helped produce) smartly putting her warm, albeit smooth vocals, way up front. The smoothness fits in quite well with what's happening in country today as the effort sounds far more like a pop album. Gavin DeGraw helps out on vocals with "Not Over You" and Isaac Slade of The Fray duets with Evans on "Can't Stop Loving You." "Sweet Spot" is a pure pop delight bouncy and certainly radio ready, but there's not a lot of country to be heard.

The pop veneer changes later towards the end of the disc, but that should come as no surprise given that Vince Gill is featured in "Better Off." It is here that Evans finds more of her country voice with a lot of twang in her delivery, dominating over Gill due to the mix. Chunks of fiddle are incorporated, making it the most traditional of the 11. Lovely mandolin sounds spice up "Good Love Is Hard to Find." Evans closes with a decent version of Radney Foster's "Revival." (Foster actually calls it "A Little Revival"). She sings it well, but lacks a chunk of the emotion that Foster brings to the table.

Times have changed, but Evans' vocal chops remain intact. It has served her very well, even if she doesn't quite learn how to slow herself down.