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Sara Evans

Three Chords and the Truth – 1997 (RCA)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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CDs by Sara Evans

Traditionalism is rare among today's new female country singers. There was Mandy Barnett, who couldn't buy a hit and then LeAnn Rimes, but she went pop after two singles. Sara Evans can't go pop - she doesn't have the material for it. Every one of the 11 songs oare pure, straight-ahead country.

For starters, she sings old Patsy Cline, Buck Owens and Bill Anderson songs in her powerful Patty-Loveless-meets-Terri-Clark voice, but even better are the seven songs she co-wrote. "I Don't Wanna See the Light" is incredibly beautiful yet terribly hopeless at the same time. A mandolin and Hammond organ perfectly frame Evans's quietly despondent vocal as she yearns for a few more hours of darkness before she has to face the day. "The Week the River Raged," a flood song of epic proportions, closes the album with a bang.

In the current pop-oriented country climate, Evans might not get much attention, but this is without a doubt one of the top five albums of the year.