Sara's new album, Words, featuring 14 new songs, is now available! Words is the first project on Evans’ own label: Born To Fly Records, appropriately named after that CMA-winning signature song, which celebrated risk and adventure. Much is familiar about Words. Evans’ voice is warm and strong, the songs are authentic and memorable, and the actual words themselves resonate with the realities of everyday life.
Sara Evans is one of country’s iconic modern singers and her music has resonated on country radio, at concert halls and amphitheaters, and in fans’ personal playlists. And the music she’s made to date is authentically her. But where Born To Fly narrowed the crowd of voices around her, Words is distinctively Sara Evans. For a woman who always tackled the music her own way, the new album is 100% her own.
It’s a big reason that the album is titled Words. The songs generate a number of words – flexible, commanding, sassy, daring, loving, hopeful, resilient – that all embody parts of Evans’ inimitable persona.
“Songs are a combination of words and melodies, and it’s the words that matter most to me,” she says. “When we go into these pitch meetings, people always ask, ‘What are you looking for? Are you OK with doing something that’s a little more pop?’ I always tell them, ‘Just play me great lyrics.’ That’s what I’m looking for.”
Her adaptability is clear from the outset of Words. The rippling mandolin and bold fiddle in the opening “Long Way Down” hint at bluegrass. The moody second track, “Marquee Sign,” segues into pop-leaning territory with jagged keyboard sounds and thick harmonies, including her 14 year-old daughter, Olivia. The third song, “Diving In Deep,” employs rolling bass and buoyant percussion to establish an island feel.
There’s plenty more variety along the way: the light reggae approach to “Rain And Fire,” the Celtic undercurrent in “I Need A River” and the motherly parental ballad “Letting You Go,” written for son Avery, who’s just months away from leaving the nest.
Evans co-wrote three of the album’s 14 songs, instinctively picking material along the way that matches her world view. Thirteen additional females racked up writing credits on the project, including Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, Pistol Annies’ Ashley Monroe, The Isaacs’ Sonya Isaacs, Hillary Lindsey (“Blue Ain’t Your Color”), Caitlyn Smith (“Wasting All These Tears”), Heather Morgan (“Beat Of The Music”) and Liz Hengber (“For My Broken Heart”).
Words closes with an acoustic revision of “A Little Bit Stronger,” her pensive, heartbreak anthem that spent two weeks at #1.
What Evans does want to do is represent the full panorama of her artistic vision. By handpicking the team around her and making self-expression the priority of her work, she’s found songs that continue to connect her to the emotional core of her audience, and to adhere to that Born To Fly embrace of risk and adventure. That theme is a big part of Words, particularly in “Letting You Go,” as she encourages her son to find his own path, singing “You were also born to fly away” at its motherly apex.
“We were crying when we wrote it,” she says. “That’s so sad, and it’s so full-circle. We couldn’t even sing it all the way through to get a work tape because we were crying so hard.”
The tears come from the separation that accompanies children growing into adulthood, but they’re also a result of knowing that his path – like her own – will have its hardships. That’s where the music part comes into play on Words. There’s an arc to the album, and in particular to the sonic evolution of “I Need A River,” that hints at the resilience that’s key to a successful life. Trusting in their ability to bounce back is what enables people to take their biggest – and, sometimes, most rewarding – risks.
“I don’t use that word a lot, resilient, but I would say that’s the best way to define me as a person,” Evans says. “I feel so blessed, but at the same time, there’s blood, sweat and tears in every single thing that I’ve gotten in this life. I have gone out and just really, really sold it, and I’m still doing that to this day.”
Doing it her way. As a mom. As a record company entrepreneur. And, mostly, as a distinct artist still excited about her unique journey.