From the early barn-dance days of country music to its current emergence onto the pop charts, its songs have been crafted with a simple approach famously defined by the late, great songwriter Harlan Howard: "Three chords and the truth."
There's no doubt that the country credo can survive, as it has through Chet Atkins' late-'50s pruning to create the "Nashville sound" to today's full-on glossy sheen displayed by hitmakers including Sara Evans, who charmed a packed Artpark Tuesday night during the penultimate offering in the free Tuesdays in the Park concert series.
In fact, it could be argued that "three chords and the truth" is exactly what pop music needs in our age of disdain for excess -- simple songs that the masses can relate to sung by people with whom they can connect.
Opening Tuesday's show was 21-year-old Buffalo native Amanda Nagurney, a recnet transplant to Nashville. Performing solo before an audience already in the thousands, she showed little sign of intimidation in delivering a mix of chart-chasing originals and a cross-section of classic covers.
The great ones have a way of shrinking the biggest venues by communicating candidly with the crowd, and Nagurney clearly has the confidence and charm to pull it off.
Armed with a rich voice and enough chops on the guitar to go it alone, she ignored her range on originals "Typical American Girl" and "Tonight I'm Gonna Drink," stretching for the high notes.
She could certainly learn from Evans about staying within her vocal wheelhouse. Traveling from Motown ("Where Did Our Love Go?") to mellow metal ("Sweet Child O Mine"), she fared best in covers when channeling the sass of Miranda Lambert's "Gunpowder & Lead."
She may be rough around the edges, but Nagurney has the goods to make it and is most definitely one to watch.
With a little warm-up from her seven-piece band, Evans took the stage and delivered a parade of hits.
Early hits like "Perfect" and "Born to Fly" were offered at the outset, followed by a true country story song in "Backseat of a Greyhound Bus."
"Looking for Something More" could've served as a metaphor for what hard-core country lovers seek from many of her hits, although she came through next with "Coal Mine," a real picker and the band's first chance to get a workout.
Evans introduced her latest single, "A Little Bit Stronger," as one penned by Lady Antebelleum's Hillary Scott.
Through the closing run of crowd-pleasing covers, Evans connected with the crowd and came across clear and true.
Today's country-pop may be watered down and gussied up, but it's still three chords and the truth.