June 29, 2009
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In 2006, Sara Evans was riding high. She was the reigning female vocalist for the Academy of Country Music and had ridden the hits from her 2005 release Real Fine Place to the upper reaches of the chart. She was also appearing that fall on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars and was about as high-profile as a country music star gets in the mainstream eye. Then in October of that year, she filed for divorce from her husband of 13 years and left the network show citing personal reasons. This began an entire year of tabloid and internet gossip sites buzzing with the latest in the Sara and Craig scandal. In the meantime, Sara Evans’ star continued to shine bright. In 2007, RCA released its first Greatest Hits collection for Sara Evans and the set featured four unreleased tracks with the snappy ‘As If’ serving as the lead single to promote the album and to keep Sara Evans at radio through 2008 – with spotty success – while she took some time off.
So riding high on all that publicity, Sara was able to take ‘As If’ to a respectable #11 slot on the country charts. That brings us to her new single. We find Sara Evans returning with new music for the first time since her highly publicized divorce and exile from the popular Dancing With the Stars TV show. (Aside from a tanked single released from the soundtrack for Billy: The Early Years, the biopic of the Rev. Billy Graham.) This time it’s with the same safe, slick sound that was she chose to help sell her Hits package. Only this time, with 3 full years spent pretty much out of the spotlight, Sara Evans needed to come back with something that packed a punch and set her apart from the pack the way songs like ‘Born To Fly’ and ‘Suds In The Bucket’ did. This is not it.
This is a tune with more snazz than substance as Sara sings the standard laundry list of hardwood floors, children laughing, and all those things that evoke warm, fuzzy feelings in your average soccer mom. From there, we’re sent into a chorus with lines like ’And when a dream starts coming true, and it feels like destiny, like I already knew that you were meant for me and me for you’. A Keith Urban-esque guitar introduces the song and frames the first verse before a major sonic eruption in the chorus where there’s so many instruments and background singers, I can’t begin to name them. Vocally, Sara begins interestingly enough – just like the song itself – but it’s not long before autotuning takes over and even a great vocalist like Sara Evans gets lost in this pseudo-wall of sound mess.
I hope there’s better material to come from the album, to be released this fall. Sara Evans is capable of much better than this – as we’ve heard in the not so distant past.
Listen to a Sara Evans – ‘Feels Just Like A Love Song’.