Big Choice


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Big Choice Review

by Mark Deming

For the band's second album, Seattle's Evangeline has added a touch more Midwestern grit and rock & roll kick to its honest and open country-rock sound, and 2003's Big Choice manages to improve on one of the more impressive alt-country debuts of the past few years. While the band doesn't exactly bash it out on Big Choice (and it hardly seems in the group's nature to do so), "Little World" and "Tupelo" boast a few shades more guitar-driven fire than Evangeline delivered on Felt Like Home, and songwriter and sometimes vocalist Chris Cline's tales of regular guy angst and romantic frustration suggest a marriage of Paul Westerberg's eloquent gripe and the Jayhawks' sweetly lovelorn contemplation of the plains. Cline is also lucky to have a vocalist as good as Jennifer Potter on board to interpret his material; with a voice that sounds rich but silky and sweet at the same time, Potter is a simply wonderful singer, and her performances here show flashes of the grace and gravity Emmylou Harris displayed on her early sides. And though Evangeline isn't much for showboating, that's also one of the strengths of Big Choice -- the musicians give this material a strong, concise delivery that's clean, realistic, and satisfying, and Cline and Kevin Suggs are both top-shelf pickers when they step into the spotlight. No jokes, no irony, just ten great songs played with heart, soul, and clarity -- Big Choice makes it clear that Evangeline isn't just another act with potential -- it's a band with talent and vision that knows how to make its music work in the studio, and has made a lovely album that's well worth your attention.

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