My Kind of Country

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

Single Review: Sara Evans – ‘A Little Bit Stronger’

It’s been five years since Sara Evans released a full-length studio album or had a Top 10 hit. She seemed to be getting back on track artistically with 2005’s Real Fine Place, only to falter again with the four new tracks that were included on 2007’s Greatest Hits package. Last year’s “Feels Just Like A Love Song” died at #59 and dropped off the charts entirely after only two weeks. The album which “Feels Just Like A Love Song” was to have led was delayed and is now more than a year overdue. That’s a career slump by almost any measure. For her comeback, Evans needs to knock one out of the park with a record that is strong, bold, catchy and memorable. Unfortunately, none of those terms applies to her new release “A Little Bit Stronger”.

I had hoped that Evans would take advantage of her sabbatical from the airwaves following the failure of “Feels Just Like A Love Song” to reassess her career and get back in touch with her roots. But instead of changing directions and trying something different, she’s offering up more of the same. “A Little Bit Stronger” was written by Hillary Scott along with Luke Laird and Hillary Lindsay, and it’s possible that Evans thought the link to Lady Antebellum would garner some attention from radio programmers. That seems like a long shot considering how mundane both the lyrics and melody are.

“A Little Bit Stronger” is about a woman who is getting over a bad break-up, a theme that has been revisited countless times in country music. But unlike such classics as “‘Ti I Can Make It On My Own” or “For My Broken Heart”, “A Little Bit Stronger” never allows the listener to feel the depths of the protagonist’s pain. All we’re told is that she brushed her teeth, drove to work and is feeling a little better now. Likewise, it lacks the spunk of other getting-over-you songs such as Tammy Wynette’s “Another Chance” or Evans’ own ‘Cheatin’.

A catchy melody can make up for dull lyrics, but unfortunately the melody here just plods along until reaching an almost bombastic stage at the bridge with some over-the-top electric guitar riffs along with some traces of pedal steel that seem to have been thrown into the mix as an afterthought.

A Little Bit Stronger’ was produced by Tony Brown and will appear on the soundtrack album to the upcoming film Country Strong starring Tim McGraw and Gwyneth Paltrow. It is also supposed to appear on Evans’ next studio album, now slated for an early 2011 release, though it is unclear whether this is the same album that was supposed to have been released last year or if a new album has been recorded in its place. Either way, “A Little Bit Stronger” inspires very little confidence that Sara Evans’ career is once again on track.

Grade: C-

Listen to ‘A Little Bit Stronger’.

12 responses to “Single Review: Sara Evans – ‘A Little Bit Stronger’

  1. Nicolas September 10, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    For the record, Sara Evans pulled the plug on FJLALS… otherwise, I don’t think it would’ve flopped like it did. She took some more time off / wasn’t ready to come back yet. Hence why follow-up single was released 13 months later.

    Anyways, I love this song =)

    Should wind up a hit on the charts in the long run, I’d say.

    • Razor X September 10, 2010 at 9:23 pm

      I’ve heard that story before but I’m skeptical as to whether it’s true. She’d already had a lot of time off before “Feels Just Like A Love Song” and I have my doubts that her label would allow her to pull the plug to take even more time off, just as they’d begun to promote her first studio album in over four years. I think they knew they had a dud on their hands and decided to rethink their strategy. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have come up with anything much better this time around. This song is really beneath her talent.

  2. Ben Foster September 11, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    “All we’re told is that she brushed her teeth, drove to work and is feeling a little better now.”

    I think there’s a little more to it than that. The point is that she continues with her day-to-day routine with a positive attitude. (“Got dressed through the mess and put a smile on my face”) The next line focuses not just on the fact that she drove to work, but that she changes the radio station when she hears a song that reminds her of her ex. That shows us that she’s not wallowing in self-pity, but that she is determined to move forward with her life. You can see more to the lyrics if you just read between the lines, and see the intent behind them. Such examples are not just telling us that she is on an upward climb, but showing us through specific examples. I’m seeing some really interesting songwriting tools at work here.

    (As for the melody, I personally like it, but that’s very subjective)

    • Razor X September 11, 2010 at 8:10 pm

      The lyrics pale in comparison to other songs like “Cheatin'”, “Til I Can Make It On My Own”, “For My Broken Heart,” “House On Old Lonesome Road,” and countless others.

  3. Ben Foster September 11, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    That seems like a pointless reply, since that opinion was already made clear in your review. But if you want to elaborate, I’m all ears.

    • Razor X September 11, 2010 at 9:22 pm

      OK, let’s see if I can explain this in a way that is more meaningful to you. Maybe it’s just me, but I think that lyrics like:

      ” Clock’s still ticking, life goes on
      Radio still plays a song
      As I try to put my scattered thoughts in place
      And it takes all the strength I’ve got
      To stumble to the coffee pot
      The first of many lonely mornings I’ve got to face”

      connect with the listener much more effectively than:

      ” Woke up late today, and I still feel the sting of the pain.
      But I brushed my teeth anyway, got dressed through the mess and put a smile on my face.”

      Or that lyrics such as:

      “When you left you said you’s doin’ me a favor
      I cried and I begged you not to go
      Now it’s just been two short weeks
      And you’re wantin’ to come back
      Well I think there’s something that you ought to know

      I’ve rearranged the living room to suit me
      I gave your favorite chair to charity
      That closet you insisted on, it’s mine now
      So don’t bring your old hangups back to me

      And I’m wearin’ my jeans a little bit tighter
      Changed my hair style and I’m learnin’ how to dance
      So maybe you best wait a little bit longer
      ‘Fore you come back and give me another chance

      Or even:

      “You made your bed and you’re out of mine
      You lie awake and I sleep just fine
      You’ve done your sowing, now you can do the reaping
      Maybe you should’ve thought about that
      When you were cheatin’

      pack a lot more punch than:

      “Getting along without you baby,
      I’m better off without you baby,
      How does it feel with out me baby?
      I’m getting stronger without you baby.”

      But that’s just me. We never get a chance to experience the hurt and depths of the protagonist’s despair in “I’m A Little Bit Stronger” that we hear in these other songs. Nor do we get any sense of determination on he part to get back at her ex by really getting on with her life as we do in the last two examples. This theme has been done many, many times in the past and it’s been done better. Is that enough elaboration for you?

  4. Ben Foster September 12, 2010 at 7:23 am

    I see where you’re coming from, and I totally respect the fact that you dislike this song – not trying to get snarky here. I can agree that we have heard other songs of this type that were better, and that Sara’s “Cheatin'” was one of them. I merely felt that “Stronger” does have a depth of its own that hadn’t really been recognized. But that’s just my take on the song, and I know that what reasonates with me won’t always reasonate with others.

  5. Pingback: Sara Evans “A Little Bit Stronger” | "A Little Bit Stronger" Lyrics | Sara Evans Music | Dixie Streams Online Radio

  6. TN March 2, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    You guys are totally wrong. This song is already in the top 20 a few months after all of your conversation. Yes Sara has done better (most artist have compared to their newer material). But keep in mind this song was not written by her, it was written by other artists. Which means its not exactly Evans creating something exactly like what she’s created in the past. She’s always been the type to try something different, a risk taker so to speak. And by that I give extreme credit to. Sara is still and always will be one of Country’s best artists, through all her ups and down’s. History cannot be changed.

  7. Jason B. May 9, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    I love, love, love when you can poke fun at the nah sayers and say things like “ha ha guess she showed you!” But Sara Evenas is a fine artist who would never be so tacky. But I will be! Let’s see…hmmm comments like “what a mundane tune” or that “it won’t connect with radio or listeners or fans” can all be put to rest as Sara rest securely at the #1 spot on country radio with this fine comeback! Also please note she’s one of only five women to score a #1 in that last fives years, and ironically it was five years ago she also had her last #1 with “Real Fine Place to Start.” So “A Little Bit Stronger” is quite a success, at the top, and that’s a little bit stronger than many of your comments and a real fine place for her to be indeed!

    • Razor X May 9, 2011 at 7:56 pm

      Yes, it has been successful. But, like a lot of other recent #1s, it’s still not a very good song.

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