While the majority of alt-country acts seem determined to prove how tough they can sound before going into the token crying-in-my-beer number, Evangeline plays from the heart from front to back on their debut album, Felt Like Home, and the effect is both refreshing and emotionally compelling. Evangeline's influences seem more strongly rooted in '70s country-rock and singer/songwriter styles than most of their contemporaries, but without the smug excess of the Eagles or the bombast of the traditional Southern rock crews; instead, Evangeline aims for an intelligent but uncluttered approach, with arrangements that know what to make of subtle dynamics and songs that digs into the nooks and crannies of human lives with a wisdom that's both hard-won and eloquently expressed. Chris Cline's songs are melodic and heart-tugging, and his lyrics paint highly expressive portraits with very few words (the album's first line, "She was born on an island/She hates the water," paints a truer portrait in ten words than many bands can conjure with an entire album). Cline is a solid guitarist to boot, and his craggy but comfortable vocals have character to spare, while his vocal partner, Jennifer Potter (who sings lead on six of the ten cuts), does splendid work either taking the lead or blending into seamless harmonies with Cline. The performances are short on flash but long on resonance, and Kevin Suggs' clear and straightforward production gives the band's virtues the focus they deserve. Felt Like Home is a strong, beautifully crafted album that offers all the proof listeners might need that Evangeline is a group to watch.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming