As someone who is only familiar with bits of Sara’s music, I went into ‘Slow Me Down’ fairly blind. Despite my lack of knowledge, however, upon first listening I think most would be surprised what the sound that hits you. Once the song gets going, of course, it takes the shape of what you would expect from a Sara Evans song: a country-tinged pop/soft rock belter focused around love and relationships.
However, it’s the riff that, while the most memorable, is also the most interesting part of the song. Played on piano across higher keys than a lot of other songs, a huge heaping of delay has been added, and I think they’re a little synthed, because they don’t quite sound real. In fact, I had to watch an acoustic video of the song just to figure out it did actually seem to be a piano they were using, as opposed to a computer program. Maybe I’m crazy, but the piano just sounds slightly inhuman to me. It’s very much at the forefront of the mix, and leaves a lasting impression on the listener.
It gets lost as the song progresses, unfortunately (or perhaps they didn’t want to get too repetitive), and replaced by electric guitar (the solo’s not bad), a smooth string section and driving drums. The original riff only returns for intro/outro sections and the verses, which perhaps is enough to hammer it home without overkill. It actually supports the melody surprisingly well considering how it’s actually battling the vocals at times for level in the mix, and how it plays little of the notes that Sara’s actually singing. Speaking of, Sara’s on as good a vocal form as ever, and after watching an acoustic version, reminds that she is not put off by the big or high notes, and will go for each one without fear. You’ve got to admire that in a world where even half the country charts are autotuned and the singers couldn’t even pull off a simple song with a tiny range live (though for some reason they put effects on her voice going into the instrumental/bridge).
The melody is also interesting, with little tricks and dances that play with tempo, such as “but I’m out this time”, and the descending extension on “down” at the end of the chorus. Melodic twirls is a pretty accurate name for them. This adds something to a song that at the basis of it is fairly conventional. I’m glad on the one hand that Sara hasn’t sold herself to the trends, and the lyrics of wanting to leave but also offering her lover a chance to stop her highlight the complex emotions and conflict involved in ending a relationship. However, aside from what I’ve already mentioned, there’s not a lot to allow ‘Slow Me Down’ to stand out, and I also worry that with females’ current lack of success in country music, and the age that Sara is (it seems women hit 40 and drop off the face of the Earth in this business), it won’t reach the chart position it should.
Based on the song alone where trends don’t infect the charts, I would expect a top 10, but in this climate Sara might be lucky to get top 30. I hope I’m wrong though, I really do, because there’s certainly merit here and it’s nice to hear new music from her.