My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Single Review: Sara Evans – ‘Feels Just Like A Love Song’

saraevansfeelsjustlikealovesongIn 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.

Grade: D

Listen to a Sara Evans – ‘Feels Just Like A Love Song’.

51 responses to “Single Review: Sara Evans – ‘Feels Just Like A Love Song’

  1. Razor X June 29, 2009 at 8:34 am

    This record is a huge disappointment. After she performed “What That Drink Cost Me” on the Opry a few months ago, I got my hopes up that she was finally getting back on track. This is one of — if not THE worst — singles she’s ever released. She’s capable of so much better; it’s a shame she keeps insisting on pedaling all this pop fluff.

  2. highwayman3 June 29, 2009 at 9:34 am

    After seeing the title, the song sounded just like I imagined. Like the rest of the top of the charts at country radio, disposable, heard it once and thats enough. I remember hearing ‘Low’ and liking it and listening to it frequently. After it tanked maybe she decided to make this release more radio-friendly to play it safe.
    It will be interesting to see where Sara fits in the new Taylor-young blonde world. I’d be surpised if she went top-10 or higher.

    • Razor X June 29, 2009 at 10:34 am

      It may be a response to the poor chart performance of “Low”, but what’s interesting is that none of the new singles on her Greatest Hits CD charted very high, either. The biggest one, “As If” didn’t crack the Top 10 — and this song is similar to “As If” in quite a few ways.

      “Low” may not have gotten enough promotion because it was from an Arista soundtrack album — and perhaps the Arista A&R team didn’t think they had a vested interest in promoting an RCA artist. I know they are both commonly owned by Sony, but in a company that big there are bound to be competing interests. This is all pure speculation on my part. It’s just very disappointing that Sara has taken this huge step backwards.

      • Leeann Ward June 29, 2009 at 10:48 am

        It may be premature for me to assume that she’s at a point in her career where commercial success isn’t very likely anymore, but I’m inclined to project it all the same. With that said, I wish she’d just have some artistic integrety at this point, since she hasn’t seen success with either “Low” or her pop flavored songs from the GH project, as Razor noted. She should just do the music that best suits her instead of trying to pander to the sounds of radio.

        • Razor X June 29, 2009 at 10:52 am

          I agree. She’s unfortunately very close to the age when country radio starts to ignore female artists. That combined with her lack of recent radio success suggests that her radio career is winding down. Now is the time to start working on her legacy instead of selling her musical soul to get some spins at radio.

  3. Occasional Hope June 29, 2009 at 11:28 am

    I really dislike this record – it epitomises Sara Evans at her worst, which is all the more disappointing when Real Fine Place seemed to be a step back in the right direction, and I loved What That Drink Cost Me, and had hoped we’d hear more of that side of Sara’s music on her next album. I’m not going to write off all hope for it yet, but this is the reverse of encouraging.

    I suspect she’s desperate to get back on the radio and is refusing to admit her time may be up, so is going to pander to the worst of pop-country radio desires in what may well be a failed attempt to get that radio play. She may find it’s one thing to sell your musical soul for success – it’s another to sell it and not get what you sold it for.

    • Steve from Boston July 19, 2009 at 1:46 pm

      “She may find it’s one thing to sell your musical soul for success- it’s another to sell it and not get what you sold it for”

      Well said O.H….that may be the best line on this whole thread!

      And the more I listen to Feels Just Like a Love song, and the more I think about it, and read these thoughtful posts here.., the less I like this song.

      And it struck me…This song would be just ‘OK” if it were offered by a young country-pop princess…but for a 38 year old artist with a Bluegrass background, and one of the classiest real Country voices ever,, it is a disgrace.

  4. Michael June 29, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Well, I’m disappointed. I had hoped she would return with stronger material and I’m curious to see how successful this will be. Crazy that she’s already “too old” to fit in with Taylor and Carrie. Her run of hits was barely a decade! I think it’s time for her to take the Lee Ann Womack/Patty Loveless/Pam Tillis/Suzy Bogguss route and start recording material that best suits her voice and doesn’t pander to radio’s ever shrinking idea of what is safe to play.

  5. Chris June 29, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Completely agree with the review except I think “Low” was never an official single, it was pulled- I may be wrong though.

    This song is so blech, I was hoping for an entire album like “Low”…

    • Nicolas June 30, 2009 at 12:21 am

      No, “Low” debuted at #59 in October 2008 … and re-entered at #59 again in January 2009, so it was definitely just a flop

      • Chris June 30, 2009 at 12:31 pm

        I’m thinking it was never promoted and a few stations just played it, but I may be wrong. Just because it charts does not mean it’s a single…

  6. Billy June 29, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    I like Sara, and I always have. However, this song is just a leap in the wrong direction.

  7. Nicolas June 30, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Well I for one LOVE this song, like I loved “As If” and I really can’t wait for the new album… its going to be amazing ❤

    And I really envision a stunning music video out of this song, so I can't wait for that either

  8. Claudia June 30, 2009 at 8:42 am

    She should go back to what she was doing in her “Three Chords And the Truth” days. She has a great voice for traditional country. Now might be the time to go back to her first inclination. Isn’t it sad, though, that Radio has moved away from such artists as Sara, Trisha Yearwood, Terri Clark, and Pam Tillis? It’s a short shelf-life these days.

  9. Erik June 30, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    This song makes “As If” sound acoustic. The production is criminally heavy, but Sara is in fine voice. The lyrics are just meh, and I’d give it a C(-).

  10. Hunter June 30, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    I like this song. There’s nothing wrong with releasing a fun, up-tempo “pop-flavored” song in the dead heat of summer.

    Plus, Sara never had success with traditional material. She hardly had success with ballads. So it’s no surprise to me that she decided to release something like this.

    I do agree, however, that the production may be a little too over-the-top. But I think it’s better that way–could you imagine the chorus if it was just one or two instruments? I don’t think it’d be good.

    • Razor X June 30, 2009 at 5:17 pm

      If the song can’t stand on its own without layers and layers of production, what does that tell you?

    • debbie July 9, 2009 at 12:00 pm

      I agree with your message. We have to keep in mind also and as many critiques have written-Sara has a fantastic band behind her-lets see if they can pull this off in concert….

    • Steve from Boston July 19, 2009 at 1:47 am

      Hunter, “Suds” is pretty darn Traditional sounding, and wasn’t that her biggest hit ever? And “Cheatin’ ” didn’t do too badly either, as I recall.

      Sara Evans may well be the last hope for a Traditional sounding female singer on country radio…If she is going down, commercially speaking, I hope she goes down fighting (as others here have noted) standing up for the good stuff, and thus advancing her artistic legacy.

  11. Steve from Boston July 2, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Leaving the whole autotuning debate aside (yes, finally, 😉 ) I too think Sara needs to embrace her pure Country and Bluegrass roots once again. Granted, she may not get any radio traction that way, but she will have retained and advanced her artistic integrity, and as Razor so rightly pointed out, Sara needs to start working on her legacy as an artist. , But this piece of harmless fluff really is not “a real fine place to start” towards that end.

    Sara has the potential to be one of the greats, like her early inspiration Patty Loveless. She would do well to follow Patty’s example now more than ever, instead of trying to compete with Carrie and Taylor, as others have also pointed out. She should be cutting a Bluegrass album, or more solidly Traditional sounding material. I too hope there;s more “What That Drink Cost Me, on this new album and far less of this Feels Just Like a Love Song, zippdey doo dah stuff. I was hoping that “In The Pines” would set the tone for the whole album, but it looks like Sara will be breaking my heart once again.

    I do agree with almost every point and post on this thread so far, but I don’t think I hate this song quite as much as the majority seem to Sara’s voice still captivates me, even on this less than stellar song….But still with every song, and every album she produces, Sara has the choice to sing for the ages, or to pander to souless and corrupt country-lite radio. And as much as I love Sara and her music, I am dissapointed that once again she has chosen the trendy over the timeless.

    • Leeann Ward July 19, 2009 at 4:08 pm

      Not to be all negative, but if “What That Drink Cost Me” is on her new album, I hope it remains the traditional sounding song that we’re all thinking it’s going to be. The clip that I heard of it was simply accompanied by guitars (not a full band), so it occurs to me that a full band could turn it into something entirely different with Nathan Chapman at the helm. I originally assumed it would be pretty traditional, but this song makes me nervous now. I hope I’m wrong.

      • Razor X July 19, 2009 at 4:19 pm

        It doesn’t seem to be the kind of song that can be done with anything other than a traditional arrangement but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

  12. Steve from Boston July 2, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    This is the kind of stuff Sara should be doing:

  13. Mike from Calif. July 3, 2009 at 2:37 am

    The whole thing was predictable to me too.

    I knew from the title, not necessarily how the new tune would sound, but at least what the subject matter would be. Sara likes to do songs about her, who she is, how she feels, and where she is in her life. It’s about connecting with the audience. I get that. And she definitely takes us there, while making the very important point that the bad times are behind her (as well they should be) and she’s looking forward (as well she should).

    I have issues, however, with the way this message is conveyed. Another lyric quote, if I may, from the second verse. Tell me you haven’t heard these words before:

    “The way we talk, the way you smile
    You kiss my lips, it drives me wild
    I never knew until I felt your touch
    That I could need someone this much.”

    It’s as though they started out trying to write a decent song and got tired, or bored, after the first verse!

    In overall quality, this song is on a level with the previously-unreleased tracks on the greatest-hits CD, which is to say “not bad.” As a devoted fan, I want more than “not bad!” And I have my suspicions that the radio folks — once they get over the novelty of the whole “Sara’s back” thing — will hear it the same way most of us did. It’s going to take a huge promotional push from Sony BMG, vast resources and all, to get this thing anywhere near the top ten. If and when that happens, it will run its course, then be quickly forgotten.

    Regardless of the circumstances that contribute to the delay, when this much time goes by without new music, the mindset should be “comeback.” That means, first time up to the plate, you swing for the fences! “FJLALS” may be a single, but that’s all it is — a blooper that barely makes it out of the infield. On Sara’s official site, the latest “webisode” features another new song — which I understand is called “Desperately” — that I prefer, hands down, to this one. It’s really Sara, and really catchy. To stretch the lame baseball metaphor even further, it’s got to count for at least a triple. (Is it the traditional sound we’d like to hear more of? No. Might that be too much to ask right now? Yes…)

    I’m not necessarily saying that “Desperately” is #1 material. In assessing the chances, however, the statistics would be in Sara’s favor. Each of her last four full-length studio albums has generated a #1 hit. More interesting than that, the last female artist not named Carrie or Taylor to reach #1 was none other than Sara, with “A Real Fine Place to Start.” There’s a star to hitch your wagon to, huh?

    Side note: Some of you will know me from the forum of a Sara-related site. So, some of you know why I came over here: to get some actual feedback — heck, to actually have my writing posted at all! What a concept! I like what I see just in this thread — insightful, intelligent stuff from people who know music, including Sara’s.

    • Steve from Boston July 3, 2009 at 7:29 am

      Mike, I like your post, isn’t it refreshing to be amoungst the grownups, so to speak?

      Places like MKOC here where we can discuss the actual substance of the music (Or lack thereof..) with well informed folks who have good taste?

      I agree with most of what you say, but you lost me at the end.. on Desperately, which I really dislike… It made me cringe the first time I heard it. I think “What That Drink Cost Me sounds far more like an actual Country song, that one I would call a triple, this one would be a base on balls, at best. I too would love to see Sara top the charts again, but Desperately isn’t A Real FIne Place To Start..

      From what I remember of Desperately the chorus goes something like this;

      “We all want to be loved….Desperately
      ah uh,(insert hand claping here) ah uh, ah uh, Desperately…”

      I thnk the song really captures that certain elusive schmaltziness of a pop psych Oprah moment…

      But I’ll have to go back to the webisode to give it another listen, maybe I’m missing something,

      But I do think that as a harmless piece of cliched fluff, “Feels Just Like a Love Song” will do very well on Country-lite radio and TV.

      • Steve from Boston July 3, 2009 at 7:44 am

        OK, I just viewed the webisode in question, and there was a snippet of a verse that sounded pretty good, but it’s hard to tell whether it belonged to Desperately or one of her other new songs.

  14. AMR July 3, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Hmmm. You all make valid comments about the new song. It’s a fun song and I want it to do well for Sara “grandma” Evans. This song is not vintage Sara; however, I will reserve my judgment on the new music until the CD is released. I want to hear this song within the context of all the new songs. I would like to note a few things. Of course, anything written about Sara these days has to mention the divorce. Continuing to mention that is NOT something I support. IMO, though, it impacted her ability to produce new music, which might explain the four-year wait for the release of a CD of all new music. I agree that Sara needs a radio hit and some commercial traction, that’s just plain economics and allows her to tour, which is really where her vocals shine and where she gains fans. That being said, let Sara go down fighting against the “youth-quake” before we decide to put the old gal out to pasture. When the country music industry wakes up, maybe it will see how antiquated its business model is in the wake of the digital age of music distribution, the internet and people’s continuing desire to attend live music concerts. This might actually be something in Sara’s favor.

  15. Aunt Pam July 3, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Count me among the ardent Sara Evans fans who greatly enjoys her more country-sounding songs and would like to see a return to a simpler production on her records. That’s not to say I dislike her radio-friendly, pop-country hits — I love “Perfect,” “A Real Fine Place To Start,” “Born To Fly,” etc. Those were quality songs.

    But like a lot of people who have posted here, I really liked “What That Drink Cost Me” from the first time I heard it. I’m disappointed it isn’t the first single because it stands out from the others I’ve heard, with a more memorable hook and melody. I think it would make a better statement about where Sara’s music is headed these days. I’ve heard it has been dropped from her live shows recently, so now I’m just hopeful it’s included on the album! Surely, it will be.

    I’ll be disappointed, too, if a live recording (not a studio cut) of Sara singing “In the Pines” a cappella with her sisters, Lesley Lyons and Ashley Simpson, is not one of the tracks. Sara mentioned the possibility of that during several shows in the past year, but I fear someone will decide it doesn’t “fit.” Hope not — follow your instincts, Sara! That song is a highlight of her show and shows off her vocal abilities (and sweet family harmonies).

    I’m not sure if it’s possible, but I’d also like to see “Low” included on the album. I liked that song a lot and at least more people would be able to enjoy it if it were included on Sara’s album, since the movie and soundtrack didn’t go anywhere. Is that a crazy idea?

    But, as a Sara fan, I’ll wait to hear the entire album before I make a final judgment on the state of her career, just like AMR. I’ve seen Sara in concert more than a dozen times and she’s a terrific entertainer who’s always been in fine voice.

    • Steve from Boston July 18, 2009 at 1:59 pm

      Pam, I agree with most of what you say, but why do I get this dread feeling that Nathan Chapman left “In The Pines” on the cutting room floor?

      I heard that Sara didn’t sing it at the fan club party this year, and hasn’t really spoken of ITP at all lately.

      Also I agree that “Low” would make a good choice for this album.

      And Sara Evans IS an amazing concert performer, not doubt.

  16. AMR July 3, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Oops, I did it again. I played with your…love story, baby just say…I forgot to comment on auto-tuning. Nice try, but let’s put the argument to rest. I have seen Sara in concert at least 15 times, through the “best of times and the worst of times.” Trust me, there’s no auto-tuning at work here my friends. She may be guilty of over-production on recent work, but that is where I draw the line.

    • J.R. Journey July 4, 2009 at 10:58 am

      I’m not saying Sara Evans needs to be auto-tuned. To the contrary: she is a great vocalist who should be singing without all this reverb. But the truth is, it’s in there on this track.

      • Chris July 4, 2009 at 7:11 pm

        Exactly. It’s impossible to not hear it on the track, and she doesn’t need it. That’s the biggest thing that bugs me about this song.

    • Steve from Boston July 19, 2009 at 1:01 pm

      I actually had this debate with some of the fine folks here, but on another blog…I vigorously challenged them to prove their assertions, and they did a pretty good job, they showed me a few articles, and I learned a few things:

      -almost all singers have varying degrees of pitch problems
      -there are several ways to deal with these problems, including a) repeated re-takes, (Martina, Trisha, Vince),
      b) pitch correction technology, (Sara, Reba, Faith, Tim) and
      c) recording and performing without a net, (Patty Loveless) leaving some imperfections intact.

      also..
      -lazy producers often pressure their artists to use pitch correction technology.

      I could be wrong on some of the above conclusions but that is how I understand it.

      The concensus at the end of the debate seemed to be that Sara does indeed use autotuning at times, but that even without the electronic “helpers” Sara Evans has one of the most distinctive, expressive and purely COUNTRY voices in the business…and to my way of hearing, I would put her in the top two by those measures.

      I’m going to my 10th Sara concert at the end of August, should be interesting .to hear some of her new stuff, and how it is performed..But there is no doubt about it, Sara Evans is one of the most entertaining concert performers active today. She is a confident and dynamic performer.

  17. debbie July 4, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Lets face it people Sara has the talent. Unfortunately the record companies are crap. There are plenty of great writers out there but for some reason the songs do not go to Sara. I really really wish there was someone out there that would help Sara select her material-good quality songs not the crappy fillers that make for a terrible CD. Take a look at Carrie Underwood’s material. You may or may not like her but the CD’s are loaded with songs that are worthy of individual release. Those songs make the artist and Carrie has become successful due to the material she is singing. It really is too bad that Sara has not had the proper representation and material availability.

    • Erik July 4, 2009 at 7:04 pm

      You think Carrie is successful due to high-quality material?

      • debbie July 9, 2009 at 11:55 am

        It sure is a part of the profession. High quality material is a must. Carrie also has the voice. All artists have their differences. What I am saying is Sara is talented and if she had the high quality material that Carrie has, yes Sara would be up there is the charts. Lets take a look at Reba-we can see that she is incredibly talented-she has what managers call “the package”. Reba has the voice, the looks and high quality material. Carrie has this and so does Sara-but as mentioned not the material. There is nothing wrong with Sara’s latest song-nothing at all-and keep in mind that pop music and country-well there really is not much difference-remember cross over……

    • Razor X July 4, 2009 at 9:41 pm

      Sara co-wrote this song. Can’t blame this one on anyone else.

      • debbie July 9, 2009 at 11:57 am

        What do you look for in music? The lyrics, beat-this song may surprise you on the charts if there is the fan support and play time on the radio……

  18. Paul July 14, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    I want to commend Sara and her team for providing us with some musical evidence that she is beyond the doldrums of her recent past. “Feels Just Like A Love Song” is a fresh approach to the sweet sounds of Sara. What is sad is that so many of those who have submitted comments at this site seemed to be bent on kicking a girl so she’ll get back down. Surely it couldn’t make anyone feel better to do that sort of thing!

    • Razor X July 14, 2009 at 8:58 pm

      Nobody is “kicking” anybody. All anyone here has done is offer a critique of a song that isn’t up to par. Nobody is harboring ill-will towards Sara. If her next release is a good one, we’ll all be cheering her on. In fact, we’ve already praised “What That Drink Cost Me.”

    • Steve from Boston July 19, 2009 at 1:31 pm

      Most of us here want Sara to succeed…as an artist if not in the marketplace. We are pulling for her, but we all know she is capable of much better.

      Sara herself set the bar very high. Right out of the box, she stepped up to the plate with her awesome Three Chords and the Truth album and knocked it out of the park. 3CATT may be one the absolute best debut Country albums ever. And her follow up No Place that Far album was a mix of great authentic traditional Country mixed with very fine contemporary Country.

      Sara’s Restless album was very high quality, and is a fine example of what Pop Country COULD be.

      Real FIne Place was a real fine return to her roots in some ways (Coalmine, Cheatin’)…

      Yeah, most of us want to see Sara sing the kind of music she was born to sing…Traditonal sounding Country and Bluegrass..

      But even in the pop-country arena, she has yet to match her amazing singles No Place That Far, and Born to Fly.

      Indeed, even Sara’s” Early Years” album (a real gem, but the way) is full of songs that are much better than this current offering, and far better as well than her Greatest Hits add ons…

      Hopefully Sara is listening and will take all this in the spirit it is meant, as a strong encouragement to return to what she does so well…high quality traditional sounding Country and Bluegrass music!

  19. Aunt Pam July 15, 2009 at 1:00 am

    Real fine a cappella performance by Sara tonight singing “God Bless America” at the MLB All-Star Game. Beautiful.

  20. Pingback: Sara Evans "Feels Just Like A Love Song" | The Georgia Jukebox

  21. Jimmy June 17, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    Huge Sara fan here, and when I heard this song for the first time last summer I was a bit skeptical. Then I decided that this is Sara totally in her element. It’s a total throwback to “Real Fine Place to Start”. Now RFP is a much better song of course, but as far as having the “roll down your windows on the interstate and jam” vibe, “Feels Just Like a Love Song” definitely has that as well. And that’s what I am looking for in a summer single release. Sara also cowrote this, which I am sure most of you know, and for just getting over her divorce and starting a new family – this was the perfect song to express those emotions – no matter how smart or not you might think the lyrics – and this is coming from a country-pop songwriter.
    Of course Sara wants to see the success of her RFP days once again, and so singles like this are her attempt, and I don’t think it’s half bad. I still jam to it every time it comes around on my Ipod. She just doesn’t have the marketing behind her like many other artists do right now. It feels like there is another new male country artist our every week! Sara is simply falling on the backburner, unfortunately… I will still be first in line to buy every album.
    As for the auto-tune debate, anyone who is anyone on radio uses it. End of story. Not saying it is right, but that is where the industry is right now.

    Interesting posts on here! A fun read!

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