Nashville-based singer/songwriter Sara Evans’ sixth album, Stronger, comes from a classic place that’s spawned much Music City material.
That place is D-I-V-O-R-C-E , but Evans isn’t Tammy Wynette, so there’s less schmaltz, more reflection. But she deserves, and probably needs to record this album after enduring a Hollywood-style dirt-dragging and name trashing split.
Also unlike Wynette, Evans’ voice isn’t headache inducing. She can pull empathy and believability out of her country-rock ballads.
She manages to make a modern tear-beer jerker out of My Heart Can’t Tell You No. Her thick alto brings the requisite amount of cred to make this enjoyable.
But Evans isn’t Phil Collins and she isn’t moping her way through the proceedings. There’s lots of levity here.
Anywhere has a mega-uplift chorus where Evans displays her vocal power which serves as a reminder that she’s been singing since she was four.
Despite the Nashville tag, Evans comes from a traditional background, which manifests itself in clean vocal tracks, minimal overdubs and a touch of grit.
There are a few acoustic ballads (Alone, What That Drink Cost Me) that deal in time-honoured themes that are restrained and less maudlin than the song titles suggest.
Stronger is a brief (10 songs), tightly structured recording that pushes Evans’ husky voice to the top of these gritty country songs.
The album ends on a stomper: a twang- driven version of her earlier hit Born to Fly that moves the song into the backwoods.
–– Dean Gordon-Smith is The Morning Star’s CD reviewer. His column, Street Sounds, appears every Friday.