‘The Barker Family Band’ EP Is a Full-Circle Moment for Sara Evans
With each song on The Barker Family Band — the collaborative EP from Sara Evans and her two eldest children Olivia and Avery — there's respect not only for the artists they cover, but one another.
The idea for the EP began when the family trio released a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" on Instagram. Fans' fervent reactions to the song inspired Evans to organize an upcoming acoustic tour and a corresponding EP — one that highlights their individual talents and represents the vast array of music that inspires them. The fact that Evans teamed up with two of her three biological children to create the new EP is no surprise, as 19-year-old Avery and Olivia, 16, both share Evans' aptitude for music, having spent their childhood on the road with their country-singing mom.
"I learn from my children every day — it's fascinating for me to watch them. I've been staring at them since they were born and I know everything about them," Evans reflects to Taste of Country, "But I love to relearn music and that's what I've been going through the past two or three years is finding a fresh, new love for music through their eyes and their ears."
Olivia and Avery selected the EP's six songs, which include "Dreams," a pristine cover of Beyonce's "XO" and a gentle take on Aretha Franklin's iconic "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." Adamant about their admiration for Beyonce (with both mother and daughter regarding her as "one of the best singers in the world") the name for the family band came from Evans' desire to give them a "cool" name, similar to Beyonce's last name, which is Knowles-Carter.
Sure, the country star's teens influence what she listens to, but they're almost returning the favor — Evans introduced her kids to Beyonce and John Mayer growing up. She recalls the days of Avery dancing in his car seat to Destiny's Child's "Jumpin,' Jumpin'" and showing him Mayer at the age of 14, which inspired him to learn guitar, a talent that proved to be his "gift," too, Evans says.
Avery plays guitar on The Barker Family Band EP and serves as a producer.
"That's what we do, we get hooked on one particular artist or one particular album and we obsess over it until we've just analyzed it to death," Evans explains.
Though cover songs are the backbone of the EP, a hidden gem is the lone original track, "The View." Co-written by Olivia and Avery, the idea for the song came to Olivia in the middle of the night. She quickly wrote a verse and woke her brother up to help finish the rest. The track paints a beautiful image in the listener's mind as it asks someone to cherish a fleeting moment before it's gone.
"Enjoy the view / Because soon it will be gone / Enjoy the music / Of this fading song / Because soon the clouds will cover up the sky," Olivia sings, demonstrating pure vocals as her mother contributes soft harmonies.
The flourishing singer-songwriter also shines on a stunning reimagination of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," on which the family brings a unique vision to the historic song with jazz-oriented instrumentation. Olivia takes lead vocals on that one, with Avery on guitar and Evans providing angelic background harmonies, letting her kids take the spotlight.
"Everyone I play that for cries. My mom cried, I cry at times when I listen to it even though I've heard it a hundred times," Evans admits, calling the cover that highlights all of their musical gifts a "full circle" moment. "There's something very symbolic and neat about our version."
The memories the family made through this project caused Evans to see the project itself as a defining moment, and it also marks the beginning of a new adventure for her children as they venture into their own budding solo careers.
"I think for me it's something that I look at and it's sort of bragging rights. These are my babies, and even though they're not babies anymore, just to see what they've accomplished and what they can do, it's just the beginning of what they're about to embark on," Evans says. "It's so exciting."
The Barker Family Band is available now.
Country Music's 30 Most Powerful Women Ever: