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Sara Evans

Stronger – 2011 (Sony Nashville)

Reviewed by Andrew Greenhalgh

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CDs by Sara Evans

Six years full of on and off the grid highs and lows have passed since country chanteuse Sara Evans released any new material. The artist weathered a very public divorce, performed on Dancing With the Stars, remarried and took up novel writing. Now, at what she feels is the right time, the artist is set to reveal what it's taken to make her "Stronger."

It's a less traditional sound Evans' employs on "Stronger," opting instead for more of the radio-friendly pop country dominating airwaves. And while the album does boast a few tracks worth skipping like Desperately, colored by some odd opening background vocals and a Born to Fly rehash, although this time with a bluegrass slant, Evans has some solid things to say throughout.

The most notable track is A Little Bit Stronger, now raiding the airwaves as the album releases. With an appropriately somber yet hopeful vibe, Evans owns the lyrics of love, loss and moving on. The Rod Stewart hit My Heart Can't Tell You No is given a distinctly countrified feel and is ready to sing along with as Alone's slow build, accented with some nice fiddle and Dobro work, really showcases Evans' still fine voice. A song like Life Without Losing sounds like something that would fit in a Lady Antebellum set while the remaining tracks provide snapshots of love, loss and life.

Sara Evans has returned from her six-year hiatus a stronger woman. On these tracks, with but a few exceptions, she shows that the tough times of life have sharpened her skills, softened her heart and drawn her to a deeper place of peace and faith. And on these 10 songs, she warmly invites you in. It's an invitation well worth accepting.