Amidst pop-country affair, there shines a voice as crystal as moonshine. That voice belongs to the one and only Sara Evans. While she certainly has had little radio success in recent years, that doesn't detract from her latest showing, the groovy, beat-heavy Slow Me Down. Set to be released on Tuesday, March 11, the project boasts 11 songs, including a sensational collaboration with the legendary Vince Gill on "Better Off." It's a guitar-laden song that is the most traditional-inspired of the bunch. As can be expected, Gill's harmonious, angelic voice tenderly caresses the ear drums — easily one of the album's most enjoyable tracks.
Elsewhere, Evans dips her toes in boisterous Taylor Swift-ian pop hooks, drenched in a bit of contemporary rock, particularly on "Can't Stop Loving You." Featuring vocals from The Fray's lead singler Isaac Slade, the song is booming, rarely taking a step back to truly examine human emotions. It's full steam ahead. Only when the bridge comes later on does Evans' lovely interpretation become completely admirable. Slade proves to be a perfect stylistic match. Simply put: they sound great together.
Much like the title track — a blistering acrobatic routine, in its own right — much of Slow Me Down is leaden with overproduced electronica. "Put My Heart Down," "You Never Know" and "Sweet Spot," especially, would benefit from less noise and more precision. Adding whistling never makes a song better. The intents are there, and lyrically, these same tracks are definite winners. The production transforms the songs into things they shouldn't be.
Evans' cover of Gavin DeGraw's "Not Over You" seems a bit out of place among so much cacophony but is one of the album's highs. It's a song that could have been written just for this country diva, and making it a duet with the originator gives her major brownie points. Unlike the aforementioned "Sweet Spot," this version of a popular song certainly hits the, er, sweet spot, musically.
Other Gems: "A Little Revival," "If I Run"
Overall Grade: B
Don't forget to grab Slow Me Down when it hits iTunes on Tuesday!