Sara Evans' New Album Refuses To Hop On The “Bro Country” Bandwagon

It’s hard to listen to a Sara Evans song and not get emotional. Whether you're rooting for her in her heartrending single, “Slow Me Down,” itching to leave home with “Born To Fly,” or just laughing at your ex's bad fortunes with “Cheatin',” chances are, if Evans' music is playing, you're feeling something.

Her new album, Slow Me Down, released March 11 by RCA Nashville, is packed with the kinds of songs that have made her famous: They've got fierce lyrics where Evans proclaims her independence but never obscures her doubts, and those addictive country melodies. Also featuring standout duets with Gavin DeGraw, Isaac Slade of The Fray and Vince Gill, the album's heartfelt and raw, and feels as brand new as it does familiar.

BuzzFeed sat down with Evans to talk about “bro country,” feminism, and her big television dreams.

When your first album, Three Chords and the Truth, came out, it didn’t have any hits. Now you have a lot of them. What did you learn from that initial experience?

Sara Evans: When I first moved to Nashville, I got hired as a demo singer. Everybody was talking about how country I was. “She's so country, she's like [country legend] Loretta Lynn.” I sort of took on that personal, like, “Yeah I am really country, compared to a lot of people, so let's go with that.” So I went to L.A. and we made sort of like a hillbilly record. I wrote seven songs on it. And I was so proud of it, am so proud of it. It got tons of critical acclaim but it had no real radio success.

I learned a huge lesson in that: There's definitely an effort that needs to be made between being authentic and artsy and cool and who you are, yet being commercial. Having that commercial success. Because I wasn't gonna be satisfied with just the critical acclaim. I wanted it all. I wanted radio hits, because that had been my dream since I was a little girl. Partying and beer drinking and all that; it would have been so dishonest if I had tried to come out with a record like that just to be part of the trend. Now, they're calling it “Bro Country.' So instead I just made the music that I loved and picked songs that I loved.

This is your seventh album. What has been the key to staying relevant all this time?

SE: I’ve always tried to choose music that I feel is, you know, right for me, and lyrically the things that I want to sing about. I always think it's going into dangerous territory when you start looking for songs or recording songs just because you think they'll be a hit or because you think it's the trend, rather than staying true to who you are. Because I think your fans start seeing through you. So I've tried to always have this consistent sound. Still growing, I don't want every album to sound the same, but it's always a consistent sound and message for me.

A lot of your music talks about independence, freedom, and breaking away, and you have talked about being a woman in a male-dominated field. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

SE: Not at all. I’m exactly the opposite of a feminist. I love men, and I've never really sang a man-hater song. But I will sing about getting stronger after a breakup. There's a song on my new album called “Better Off” that is basically the singer singing to anyone, her niece, or her sister, or her daughter, just saying, 'If he's not treating you the way you deserve to be treated, if he doesn't want to be with you, then you're better off.'

You don't think that's a feminist message?

SE: No, I think that's smart. Because you don't have to be a feminist to say, 'If he doesn't want to be with you, or if he's cheating on you and he leaves you, you're gonna be better off.' Because why would you want to be with someone like that anyway? You deserve to be with someone who loves you.

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