Long considered a substandard effort due to its oddly brief running time (it's just barely half an hour long) and scattershot feel (like its sister album, Cimarron, also released in 1981, it primarily consists of outtakes from earlier albums), Evangeline is not as bad as its detractors claim. It's true that the album has more than a couple of clunkers; the synthesizers and California rock guitars of Rodney Crowell's "I Don't Have to Crawl" and "Ashes By Now" do neither singer nor songs any favors, the version of John Fogerty's "Bad Moon Rising" adds nothing new to the song, and James Taylor's "Millworker" simply isn't very good. On the other hand, two recordings from the then-unreleased Trio sessions with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt, a perky "Mr. Sandman" that was a minor pop hit and a reworking of Robbie Robertson's haunting "Evangeline" featuring some outstanding harmonies from Parton, are outstanding, as are "Spanish Johnny," a Springsteen-ish ballad sung with Waylon Jennings, and a dazzling version of the standard "How High the Moon" that uses the same pre-rock arrangement style as "Mr. Sandman." So, Evangeline is certainly uneven, but it's not at all worthless.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason