A much more confident Sara Evans emerges on the 11 songs that make up ‘Slow Me Down,’ her new studio album. From top to bottom this project is a blast of energy. Even the ballads pop with new life and exuberance.

‘If I Run’ is the most vulnerable track on the album, and while the story is told from the vantage point of a scarred female, it’s hardly a sorrowful lament. “If I run / Baby will you chase me / Be the one who wants to save me,” she asks. Fans looking for a classic Evans vocal performance find it on this song, and later on ‘Gotta Have You.’

Not that she hangs back otherwise. Each song is a vocal showcase of its own flavor. ‘You Never Know’ feels inspired by early ‘90s pop or adult contemporary music. The playful ‘Sweet Spot’ is as much fun as Evans has had on a song since ‘Suds in the Bucket.’ ‘A Little Revival,’ the album’s closer, leaves one tingling with inspiration.

Strong collaborations with Gavin DeGraw (on his hit 'Not Over You’) and Vince Gill (‘Better Off’) round out the project. The latter is a treat for pure country music fans. The down-home country ballad showcases Evans’ traditional chops. For the most part, producer Mark Bright keeps her sounding very contemporary (look for plenty of keyboards and synthesizers across ‘Slow Me Down’), but he and the songstress turn in a true “stone-cold” country recording on this track.

Bright is the right producer for Evans at this point in her career. He highlights her powerful energy in a very modern way, but at no point does a song sound like they're trying to keep up with the younger, edgier sound of today. Everything is clicking for the country mainstay. There should be plenty of hits to come from ‘Slow Me Down.’

Key Tracks: 'Slow Me Down,' 'You Never Know,' 'Better Off'

All Sorts of Sexy: "Sexy" is Evans' one-word description for this album. She points to her duet with Isaac Slade as the high-water mark. “The passion in that song … I think people are gonna die when they hear it," she told ToC.

Did You Know?: Evans co-wrote two of the 11 songs, 'If I Run' and 'Sweet Spot.' Her husband Jay calls 'If I Run' the "prodigal son song."

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