Mitchell: Long time between Sara Evans albums

Sara Evans: Slow Me Down (RCA)

Sara Evans’ career took a major detour when she was sidelined and distracted by a nasty divorce from her husband followed by a highly public lawsuit from her ex-maid, which Evans lost to the tune of a half million dollars.

So, Slow Me Down is only her second album in 13 years and three years since her last album Stronger that sold surprisingly well and hit No.1 on the country charts.

This new album finds Evans in very fine form in more ways than one. The CD liner shows a very fit and leggy Evans who has obviously been working out. She looks at least 15 years younger than her 43 years while musically she has shifted her sound to a broader pop spectrum while still maintaining a hint of country for her fan base.

I get the feeling that fans of Lady Antebellum will like this, especially with the superbly hooky duet Can’t Stop Loving You with Isaac Slade of The Fray fame.

Meanwhile, the title track has placed high on the adult contemporary charts while crossover success may happen with the Ryan Tedder co-written song Not Over You as sung with R&B stylist Gavin DeGraw.

Evans also tries a little heartland rock n roll with the brilliant closing track Revival that you can imagine Springsteen or Mellencamp covering and it remains my fave track on a very slid outing.


Jeff Ballard Trio: Time’s Tales (OKeh)

Jazz drummer Jeff Ballard has put together a very interesting and eclectic trio with ace guitarist Lionel Loueke of Ivory Coast and sax wizard Miguel Zenon who grew up in Puerto Rico.

All three of these famed players live in the USA now but each brings some of their heritage to the mix on this intriguing album.

The disc starts out with a winsome reworking of Loueke’s Afro jazz/funk Virgin Forest while the cover of Silvio Rodriguez’ El Reparador de Suenos has elements of Latino jazz with accents of Afro-reggae that are sly but extant.

The biggest surprise cover here is the metal-jazz (I guess) of Queens Of The Stone Age’s Hangin’ Tree that offers vigorous guitar runs foiled by sweet sax play.


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