Most helpful critical review
55 of 63 people found the following review helpful
Great voice, marginal songs
on August 22, 2005
Wow, there are so many opinions being thrown into this review forum, mostly in the 2 camps of "best ever" and "sell out" camps. Many reviewers have made excellent points on both sides. I'd like to add a few thoughts, and an anecdote.
There are some good songs here: "Sunshine..." and "Mississippi Girl", for example, are catchy and pleasant. Many of the others are merely adequate, elevated by Faith's superb voice and presence. Generally, the album isn't all it could be, which is why so many reviewers are disappointed with this release. Faith usually picks better songs than these, though it's worth admitting that none of her albums has had the consistency in songwriting quality that, say, Jo Dee Messina had on her breakthrough "I'm Alright". Faith's albums are usually half good, half skippable. Her voice is what makes her such a solid artist. Okay, and she's pretty, but when I'm listening to a CD I don't care what the performer looks like. If the song and/or performance are solid, the CD works. As usual with Faith, the performances are great but the songs...well...
But then, after enduring yet another tepid duet with her husband - who also consistently sings and performs well, but releases so-so albums - and more forgettable songs, we get "Wish For You". This is a standout track, a beautiful lullaby for her children and for everyone who can still be moved by the power of innocence and hope. This track alone adds one star to my review.
And then we get "Paris". Amazon's reviewer may find this song puzzling, but I sure didn't. I also can't stop playing it, and it's one of the few tracks I immediately ripped to my computer. This is a 40s-style torch song, and Faith shows off the strength of her voice and the emotional delivery she can bring to a good song. The first time I heard this, I got chills. I think most people would, especially if they could let go of the prejudice that Faith Hill must automatically equal "Country". It's an incredible, powerful song. No, it's not country, but it's not pop, either. It's just good music - and worth another 2 full stars alone.
As for "Mississippi Girl," I have a true story to pass along: A former coworker and his wife and 2 kids stopped at a remote truck stop in the heart of the Midwest several years ago. As they were sitting down with their meals, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw walked into the restaurant with their children. Their entourage followed later, but Faith and Tim sat with my friend and his family so their kids could play together. Obviously everyone knew who they were, but nobody asked for autographs and they never acted like they deserved special treatment. They just sat and talked to another set of parents as their children played and everyone ate. They stayed a couple of hours, just sitting and drinking coffee and talking, and then both families went their separate ways - my friends to their car, Faith and Tim to their tour bus. As my friend told the story, he stressed that both celebrities never acted like they were different or wanted to be treated differently. They acted just like everyone else in that restaurant - good people, good parents, good neighbors.
So when Faith sings "Mississippi Girl," I believe that behind all the glamor and fame, she's still a decent person and a good mother and wife. Being a celebrity changes people, but I don't think it's changed her core values or identity, not yet. Please, give the woman a break - let's not tear her down with all-too-easy cynicism and judgmental scorn. It's just a song, and she's just doing what she does best - singing.
3 stars for her voice, 0 stars for song selection. Next time, Faith, please take some chances and pick stronger songs...