Sara Evans, family create new Words; Foster the People comes back
B Sara Evans Words Born to Fly
Many musicians say their work is deeply personal, but Sara Evans may have taken that a step further in her new, impressive album.
The country star invites her 14-year-old daughter to sing on “Marquee Sign,” gathers three siblings to contribute harmonies on “Night Light” and sings about her oldest son going to college in “Letting You Go.”
Such moves can feel manipulative, but not here. Evans brims with confidence and uses her appealing voice on a batch of very strong songs.
Teaming up again with co-producer Mark Bright, Evans co-wrote three of the album’s 14 tunes and taps top-notch talent, including Pistol Annies’ Ashley Monroe, The Isaacs’ Sonya Isaacs and Grammy winner Hillary Lindsey on others.
Evans has also picked some songs that show off a wilder side, like the intensely lusty “I Don’t Trust Myself” and a shimmering cover of The SteelDrivers’ ode to a bad breakup, “Long Way Down.”
Standouts include the hard-driving, cross-over stunner “Marquee Sign” (“I wish you were a pack of cigarettes/’Cause you would’ve come with a warning”), the poppy “Rain and Fire,” the world-beat friendly “Diving in Deep.”
It’s hard to imagine anyone else breathing so much life into the title track, a delicate slip of a song, and Evans shows off stunning vocal control on “All the Love You Left Me.”
Hot tracks: “I Don’t Trust Myself,” “Marquee Sign,” “Words” — MARK KENNEDY, The Associated Press
B Foster the People Sacred Hearts Club Columbia
Foster the People’s stunning smash single “Pumped Up Kicks” seemed to surprise everyone in 2011 — including the band.
The California group’s response to creating a smart, catchy anthem that many people misunderstood was to put out the more straightforward follow-up album, Supermodel.
With its third, Foster the People is back to using catchy music to deliver more complicated, pumped-up ideas.
The first single “Doing It for the Money” is a clever start, considering how the moody R&B singalong declares they’re “not doing it for the money.” “I Love My Friends” has the same feel as “Pumped Up Kicks,” as singer Mark Foster sings, “We’re a disaster, yeah, you know it’s true” over an irresistible groove. “Pay the Man” combines dark lyrics and light melodies, while “Harden the Paint” moves between dreamy dance pop arrangements and spare trap grooves.
The most ambitious is “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy,” which jumps between lush dance pop and the bluntness of Yeezus-era hip-hop. Foster piles on a stream of stark images, from “Got my hands up in the air, I’m saying I can’t breathe” to pretending “one day we’ll be the greatest of the Gatsbys” in the verses. In the chorus, he prays for a solution, though that didn’t go so well for the late Sex Pistol Sid Vicious (who overdosed on heroin) and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen, who was murdered in the Chelsea Hotel.
The album is well-crafted, but it does feel that the band is pulling its punches at times.
Hot tracks: “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy,” “Doing It for the Money” — GLENN GAMBOA, Newsday (TNS)