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Sara Evans

Real Fine Place – 2005 (RCA)

Reviewed by Jacquilynne Schlesier

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CDs by Sara Evans

Gretchen Wilson's massive success sparked a return to down home country music. With her Missouri farming background and the distant memory of her rootsy debut album behind her, Sara Evans seems like a natural choice to lead the parade. "Coalmine," the first track, does its part to pick up the baton; bouncy fiddle and banjo drive this tune about a hard-working coal miner and the woman who loves him. Unfortunately, the rest of the album lacks that enthusiasm, paying lip service to a series of traditional country cliches.

There's the cheating song, helpfully called "Cheatin'" and the home town nostalgia of "Missing Missouri." Flashy big city life is cast off for small towns and family in both "New Home Town" and "These Four Walls." Only in "Bible Song," about escaping from the small town, does Evans escape convention.

The shining vocals expected of an Evans album are present, especially on tracks where she drops the radio polish and opts for her natural lilt. But because she sings these songs without much feeling, all that vocal power is going to waste.