Sara Evans Reaches Real Fine Place to Stop: No. 1

Brooks & Dunn Still Occupy Top Album Spot

The divine Sara Evans clambers to the No. 1 spot this week on Billboard‘s Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart, propelled there by her characteristically perky “A Real Fine Place to Start.” This is about the only triumph in what is essentially a Sargasso Sea of chart inactivity.

Brooks & Dunn’s Hillbilly Deluxe settles in for its second week at the peak of the Top Country Albums array. Otherwise, the lineup here is pretty much the same as it was at last report.

On the savory side, there are new singles from Sugarland, Rascal Flatts and Steve Holy and new albums from Ryan Shupe & the RubberBand and James McMurtry. Shupe’s group’s debut is particularly impressive, given the fact that it’s a relatively new act.

Completing this week’s Top 5 singles tally are Montgomery Gentry’s “Something to Be Proud Of,” which strides from No. 6 to No. 2; Toby Keith’s “As Good As I Once Was,” hanging steady at No. 3 for the umpteenth week; Brad Paisley’s “Alcohol,” now in its second week at No. 4; and Brooks & Dunn’s “Play Something Country,” which plummets from its No. 1 slot last week to No. 5.

Craig Morgan’s “Redneck Yacht Club” sails from No. 10 to No. 6, Tim McGraw’s “Do You Want Fries With That” slides from No. 5 to No. 7 and Jamie O’Neal’s “Somebody’s Hero” marches from No. 12 to No. 8 — its first foray into the Top 10. Gretchen Wilson’s “All Jacked Up” also enters this charmed territory with a hop from No. 11 to No. 9. Rounding out the list is Keith Urban’s “Better Life,” sliding into No. 10 from No. 14. Faith Hill’s “Like We Never Loved at All” takes a giant step from No. 41 to No. 32.

Those powerhouse single entries from last week continue to do well: Keith’s “Big Blue Note” leaps from No. 57 to No. 36; George Strait’s “She Let Herself Go” from No. 47 to No. 41; Reba McEntire’s “You’re Gonna Be (Always Loved by Me)” from No. 52 to No. 45; and Sugarland’s “Stand Back Up” from No. 56 to No. 47.

Saying “Howdy” for the first time are Sugarland’s “Just Might (Make Me Believe),” which debuts at No. 52; Rascal Flatts’ “Here’s to You” entering at No. 59; and Holy’s “It’s My Time (Waste It if I Want To),” which jams its foot in the door at No. 60. (What is it, by the way, with all these parenthetical titles? Remember, kids, complexity is not profundity.)

In our endangered species department, Luke Stricklin’s “American by God’s Amazing Grace” gets its second wind and trudges bravely from No. 58 to No. 56, a perch that is still six spots below its former high.

Movement on the album charts is turgid at best. Every one in the Top 5 seems intent on staying there. Rascal Flatts Feels Like Today rebounds from No. 4 to No. 2; Paisley’s Time Well Wasted backs off from No. 2 to No. 3; Hill’s Fireflies slips from No. 3 to No. 4; and Urban’s Be Here rises from No. 6 to No. 5. All these titles have been at No. 1 in recent weeks. In sixth through 10th place, respectively, are Sugarland’s Twice the Speed of Life, Keith’s Honkytonk University, Jason Aldean’s self-titled debut, Wilson’s Here for the Party and Keith’s Greatest Hits 2.

Modern Day Drifter, Dierks Bentley’s second collection, drifts from No. 14 to No. 11, while Trick Pony’s R.I.D.E. tumbles from No. 11 to No. 18 its third week out. R.I.D.E. debuted at No. 4.

Ryan Shupe & the RubberBand’s Dream Big grabs our attention by blasting into the charts at No. 13 — not a bad omen at all. McMurtry’s Childish Things makes a respectable entrance at No. 47.

Returning to the charts after a brief absence are Randy Travis’ Worship & Faith (at No. 54) and the various-artist package, Patriotic Country (No. 72).

Statisticians and others with severely limited horizons will be enchanted to learn that four of this week’s Top 60 singles have gone No. 1, while 24 of the Top 75 albums reached that height.

Same time, same place next week?

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.