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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sara Evans

Tonight @ Miller Lite Oasis, Summerfest, 10 p.m.

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Sara Evans comes from the thrown-into-the-deep-end school of becoming an entertainer. As a young performer she was hit by a car. Briefly confined to a wheel chair, Evans kept singing to pay the hospital bills. She was eight. After re-learning to stand, playing a gig like Summerfest must be a cakewalk for her.

Evans is a rarity in modern day country, an old Nashville-style performer who burst onto the new-Nashville scene. Over her dozen-year recording career, she has demonstrated a genuinely bizarre skill set. She is exceedingly qualified to play traditional music, yet once struggled with the seemingly easier pop stuff. It took a few albums to work out a balance between her brilliant vintage sounding music, and her early, unfortunate attempts at recording music-video country.

But she has found that balance. When Evans can display her personality on a song, she’s is a singer second to none. And with her most recent recordings, contemporary country has seemed less like a straitjacket and more like a roomy, broken-in sweatshirt. She seems more comfortable, and sings with less obligation.

Evans’ most recent single is a perfect demonstration. Last year’s “Low” saw Evan’s return to her throaty roots, demonstrating her Patsy Cline-esque ability to lead a song and not just follow the instruments. That’s the perfect momentum for a concert.

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