Review Dave Evans High Waters

Dave Evans
High Waters
Neon Records NR0998

Review by Art Menius for Bluegrass Unlimited January 1999

Put My Little Shoes Away      High Waters – Bad Blood    Love Will Make It Last    Drink Up and Go Home     Y’all Come     Rounder at Twenty-One     Fair River Side    Cold Dark Cell    Dear Old Dixie    Pure Gallio Wine    Stone Coal West Virginia    Humble Carpenter from Galilee


High Waters, Dave Evans’ second release since his release, presents a mature, confident Evans on a moving set of original and traditional bluegrass. For many years Evans has, like Larry Sparks and Del McCoury, offered his own sound derived from classic bluegrass. High Waters proves the finest representation on record of his sound to date. We’ve known for twenty years that Evans possessed – with that irrepressibly soulful voice – extraordinary power. On High Waters we find that great power channeled and focused to a degree he has never before achieved.


High Waters also demonstrates the maturation of Dave Evans the songwriter. Talk about overcoming adversity, Evans got stuck with a lot of time on his hands and made fantastic use of it judging from the six compositions presented here, including a couple of good love songs and a powerful gospel piece. The chilling “Cold Dark Cell” (“It ain’t what you’ve done in this old world; but who you know.”) and “Stone Coal West Virginia” deal directly, unmistakably, and quite poetically with his recent experience. “High Waters – Bad Blood” is perhaps the most contemporary piece in the Evans’ canon. Immediately memorable, it demands radio airplay. So does Benny Fields’ “Fair River Side” which benefits from a classic Evans vocal delivery and some of the best banjo backup he’s ever put on record.


Evans didn’t pull off this tour-de-force release all by himself. Traditional Grass alumnus Gerald Evans handles all the harmony vocals and fiddling, while sharing the mandolin with Randy Thomas. Ray Craft, also of Unlimited Tradition, provides the strong guitar Evans music demands, while Clancy Fields plays bass. In a brief liner note, Evans writes of his desire that “this album will recognize the problems of life while offering songs of hope to those who overcome.” On High Waters he has achieved that and much, much more.