Personnel: Sara Evans (vocals); Marcus Hummon, Biff Watson (acoustic guitar); J.T. Corenflos, Troy Lancaster (electric guitar); Gary Morse (steel guitar, dobro); Bryan Sutton (banjo); John Mock (penny whistle); Peter Kevin Fisher (harmonica); Timothy … see full wiki
Cons: Some of the songs still have not grown on me.
The Bottom Line: In the end Restless is different but still stellar offering from Sara Evans.
It was 1:20am Christmas morning and I could not sleep. My shoulder was aching for reasons unknown to me, my nose was stuffy from the newly hatched cold, and my left knee was throbbing as it is wont to do from time to time. But I was content. My lovely wife was lying peacefully beside me, two of my daughters and my grandson were slumbering upstairs, and I had the earphones of my new MP3 player in my ears and my head sway slightly from side to side as Sara Evens serene voice washed over me. The album was Restless and the song was track No. 8 Tonight, one of those signature tender, emotive love song that so mark Country music. Oh the song is lovely filled with all the right ingredients to make the poet in me fall instantly in love with the tune. But this love affair would not have been possible with Sara voice, which is at once down home and folksy as they get, but oh so lovely and authentic.
Now it is 1:44am and as I sit at my computer writing this review, I am listening to the track again, losing myself in its simple message of loneliness, and lust, which in the end is quintessentially human. And that is a chord that seems to touch almost every track of the 2003 release Restless.
I had never been a fan of Sara Evans original brand of country music. After hearing her first offering Three Chords and the Truth, I wrote her off as being a little too twang induced for my contemporary country music tastes. But then along came the single I Could Not Ask For More from Born To Fly, penned by none other than Dianne Warren, and my ears and heart stood up and took notice. Almost on a whim, I purchased the CD and promptly feel in love with every track. With every turn of the CD, I discover something new in the music that wasnt there before; a new nuance to Saras voice, a violin or fiddle passage that I missed before, a guitar strum or slide that I discover, or rediscover and fall instantly in love with!
Never over-engineered, Saras slightly accented country voice is given the full measure of its range in which to beguile, entertain, sooth, and move us. And although her accent can make some of the lyrics hard to understand at times, this does not detract, or distract from the musical enjoyment. Quite to contrary, it lends a dose of authenticity that never fails to put a smile on my face, and renews my appreciation for the diverse range of country music today.
So when Ms. Evans released Restless I bought it without first listening to it, and at first I admit that I didnt exactly take to the CD. But over time I have found something to like in almost every track, but a few will never work for me. It has not been an instant love affair between the two of us, but more like a gradual getting to know you thing that has led to an enjoyable musical discovery. Like 2000s Born To Fly Sara co-wrote several song on the CD, including track No. 4 Niagara, another signature ballad and the first song on the CD that caught my ear; there is something about the piano at the intro of a ballad. Songs about falling in love are timeless and needed, and almost always beautiful, and Niagara is no exception. Sara does an exceptional job of putting me in the moment; is she singing to me? And of course I am always, always a sucker for the violin; this is a sweeping poignant ballad with a lot going on, but it all works well.
And Diane Warren is back on track No. 6 Need to Be Next to You, but quite honest this one is not as strong as I Could Not Ask For More from Born To Fly. I did not feel it, and quite honestly I dont think Saras soul was in this one.
Restless is an eclectic CD and some of the tracks do not seem to fit at firsttrack No. 9 Otis Redding comes immediately to mindbut over time they jell, they work. Said Sara of the track: [T]his is the one song I wasnt so sure about when we finished recording. I thought, I just dont know if this is really true to who I am, if this is really me. I was so afraid that people would laugh at it or something. I still think its really, really, really different for me. Another is track No. 12 Big Cry a song with echos of New Orleans blues fused with classic R&B complete with horns and a harmonizing back-up section. Not exactly Country, but Sara pulls it off with style, even though she has reservations about the track.
I encourage everyone to surf over to Sara Evens official web site (http://www.saraevans.com) and read through the notes she wrote for Restless, they give a refreshing and eye-opening look into what it takes to produce a winning CD. I enjoyed reading her thoughts; it was like walking through the pages of her mind.
In the end Restless is different but still stellar offering from Sara Evans. And as time creeps towards 2:35 am, I am listening to the last track of the CD Suds in the Bucket, and this one is all Country, and is a fitting close to an album is wonderful showcase for a brilliant talent.