Sara Evans has come along way from her critically acclaimed 1997 ultra-traditional country debut album, "Three Chords and the Truth." Her last album, "Born to Fly," yielded some big pop-country hits, and this, her fourth, sees her continuing to mine the same commercial country vein while experimenting with some new sounds as co-producer.
"Otis Redding" has a great midtempo groove and includes a bongo and Evans' sister Hillary's intentionally low-fidelity background vocals. The title track, about a woman with difficulty setting down roots, starts with an Irish tin whistle.
But beyond the sonic creativity, what really makes this album a success is great singing and songwriting. "Backseat of a Greyhound Bus," for instance, is a classic country story song that starts with the line, "She wore a dress with cherries on it, goin' somewhere where she'd be wanted." Evans' sweet vocal and the sympathetic lyric turn what could be a story of despair into something else - maybe not triumph exactly, but at least comfort.
Although Evans' lack of success with traditional country music was disappointing, a commercial artist has to make albums that people will buy. And this is definitely one worth buying.