Singer-songwriter Chris Cline blames “Country” Mick Jagger, the singer of “Faraway Eyes” and “Dead Flowers”, for introducing him to country music. Thank goodness it wasn’t Kenny Rogers, or Evangeline would be playing killer riffs on “The Gambler” instead of composing the richly textured roots-rock on “Felt Like Home”, the Seattle quintet’s debut disc.
The marvelous album, pristinely produced by soundboard craftsman Kevin Suggs (who also plays guitar and pedal steel in the band), leads off with “Island”, a midtempo power ballad sung by vocalist Jennifer Potter. It’s a superb first-impression showcase for her controlled vocals and the band’s multilayered accompaniment; never on any cut is she overpowered or underserved by the music. She later nails a version of the country classic “Making Believe”, the only non-original in the set.
Cline shows more than a Stones influence with “Scenery”, an honest take on the nuts and bolts of making music and the best track on the disc. There’s early Byrds in the eager, keening production, along with a side order of Flying Burritos (the vocal quality, the pedal steel, the swelling organ). Bassist Scott Summers and drummer Kevin Warner easily roam the rock-to-country landscape with appropriate beats and sonic shadings.