Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Album Review: SLOW ME DOWN

It's what they call a buried lead in journalism. Sara Evans's new album Slow Me Down contains some great songs, but most of them happen to be at the end. There's a reason she is a legend – her voice and vocal control are absolutely outstanding. And even with six-year and three-year gaps between her most recent releases, this record sounds fresh.

The title track and first single is currently sitting at number 28 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. It's definitely the most pop-sounding, but doesn't stand out as a hit. The string-instrument backing is complex and full – however, the lyrics don't carry enough weight. "If there's something you still need to say, you need to say it now/Hurry up and slow me down." It's an attempt to be clever that feels forced.

Four of the first five songs are heartbreakers, which appears to simply be poor organization. Put My Heart Down is definitely worth listening to, though, and offers a bouncy, upbeat mood in spite of the theme. "If you really loved me/You'd put my heart down."

Can't Stop Loving You is a well-written duet with Isaac Slade that has very compelling opening-lines. "I try to crush it like the ashes of a cigarette/I try to smother out the embers, but I just can't quit." Of course, Evans is referring to a love-addiction. The soaring chorus and raspy harmonies will give you goosebumps.

But if I had to pick the track with the most feeling, I'd choose If I Run. It sounds totally traditional, but the heavy bass guitar adds an element of rock. Evans sings on-top of her own vocals for an emotional call-and-reply about true romantic dedication. "If I run, baby will you chase me? Be the one who wants to save me?" They're simple lyrics, but come across as extremely heartfelt.

Sweet Spot has a dark-feeling hook and intro, but ends up being a bubbly ode to a love that does work out (finally!). "Every word, every song, every single thought/All I'm thinkin' about is you." The strange chords remind me a little of Kacey Musgraves's Dandelion.

Gotta Have You has a suspiciously-quiet first verse that bursts into a huge chorus. "Tell me, tell me, where would I be? Without you, baby, I'm not me." I hope Evans puts this one to radio – it's upbeat, with great musical-contrast and strong lyrics.

This album is real country if it ever existed. And no, it's not at all old-fashioned. Evans manages to take the best components of her traditional sound and supplement them with modern songs and instruments. My only criticism is that You Never Know sound almost identical to Carrie Underwood's Two Black Cadillacs.

Country Luke's Rating: 7/10

Photo courtesy of saraevans.com.

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