Rooms of razors, love lights shining, soul cleansing, walls of lies, bottomless pits and fiery hells … .
They all exist in the musical realm of Sara Evans’ new album, Words. And she made every word count for her eighth studio release.
A fiery hell is what awaits a cheating man in the opener “Long Way Down,” which revisits melodies reminiscent of Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Linda Rondstadt’s “Those Memories of You” from their 1987 Trio album. Evans wishes bad people came with a warning label in the lead single “Marquee Sign.” Then she goes merengue in the lighthearted “Diving In Deep” about loving someone for everything they bring to the table, flaws and all.
The counterpoint in “Like the Way You Love Me” and melodic lines in “Rain and Fire” will allure any listener, and then she pours on the drama in “I Don’t Trust Myself” as she sings in the first person about being tempted by a former flame. The title track is a striking acoustic number that explores the hidden power of words through the course of a relationship. “Letting You Go” expresses the emotions every parent goes through as they watch their children grow into adults.
“The lyrics are everything to me,” Evans said during our CMT.com interview. “It’s so weird that it’s not everything to some artists. There are songs that call for simple … it says nothing, but it’s just fun. But for what I do, I’m all about what I’m saying in the melody and the feeling and the emotion that’s going into it.”
Evans’ goal is to carry on the tradition of creating country music that stands up to the timeless storytelling that makes the genre what it is.
“I’ve been onstage since I was 5 years old, covering every great country song,” she said. “So back in the days, when Reba [McEntire] would sing, ‘Somebody Should Leave,’ for instance, that was one of the songs that gives me chills thinking about it. That’s what country music was known for for so many years — just the great writing and how it just tears your heart out.”
Including “Marquee Sign,” Evans co-wrote three songs on the album, and it’s only coincidence that the final track listing represents a total of 14 female songwriters, including Hillary Lindsey, Ashley Monroe, Hillary Scott, Caitlyn Smith, Liz Hengber and Sonya Isaacs.
“When we were done with the album and we were talking about the star power of the writers,” she added, “someone had brought it up, ‘Do you realize that there are 14 women?’ Because I’m not like that. I would never make an album and choose female writers just to make a point. I just chose the best songs. So, it makes me proud that it is 14 female writers.
“When people send me songs, I never want to know who wrote them,” she added. “When we were getting pitched songs, sometimes people will say, ‘Well, this is a really pop song. Are you open to listening to a really pop song? This one is kind of bluegrass. Is that OK?’ Just play me the song, because any song can be changed musically. But if the words are great, that’s all that matters.”
Words is the flagship release from her new independent label Born to Fly Records, and she is enjoying the creative freedom that comes with being your own boss.
“There’s also an incredible fear because for all of my career, I’ve been on a huge record label and had this safety net,” she said. “‘Oh, we’re going to do Regis and Kelly,’ and the label arranges everything. Now it’s all on me. But I also believe that it’s going to be great, and I have a great team around me.”
Evans will celebrate the release of Words by headlining a show at Billy Bob’s Texas in Forth Worth, Texas on Friday (July 21).