Rochester, Indiana's Brent Evans writes clean, tuneful and satisfying songs that adroitly manage to fill in the gaps between country, country rock and down-to-earth pop. His road-seasoned chops and professionalism are put to good use on this, his latest long player. It doesn't hurt that the songsmith is also the owner of Rochester's 4th Street Studio, where he recorded the disc with production and musical help from Larry DeVincent and an impressive cast of talented players and singers. 'Doretta,' the album's opener, sets the tone with a driving country-rock beat and clear, upfront vocals from Evans. This song is a fine endorsement for his studio - every instrument is well-placed and crystalline here. The song steps up to a massed chorus vocal, bringing to mind a nice Eagles/Son Volt combination of polished and rootsy. The quality of songwriting and production is consistent throughout the album, but Evans wisely paces the disc with varying tempos and moods, pairing songs such as the alternately brooding and anthemic 'Tears Won't Help You Now' with 'My Perfect Imperfection,' a rollicking ode to a one-of-a-kind gal. The pumping Who-like intro to 'If Love Doesn't Know' melts into a Moody Blues vibe, followed by the album's title track and emotional centerpiece. Evans could have overdone the song and steered it into schmaltz, but he masterfully manages to embroider a bed of rustic acoustic guitar and harmonica with lyrics that are uplifting, unvarnished and unabashedly positive. Gears shift again with 'Miss Communication,' a funny and clever laid back treatise on the whole man/woman dynamic thing that would make Jimmy Buffett proud. Evans also highlights his pliable but earthy vocals on the layered and nuanced 'Mystery Girl' and the country slow-dance of 'Cheated Myself Out of Love.' The disc is a treat to listen to. Each song is tailored with well chosen instrumentation and spot-on vocal harmonies. Evans accomplishes here what most local (or regional, or national) singer-songwriters aspire to: he shapes the music to evoke the emotion every song is trying to convey. An entire album of such quality is an unexpected pleasure.
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