Wednesday, October 16, 2002
by Wayne Robins
If I'd never heard of Faith Hill before and you told me she was a country singer, I'd say, "What country...Norway?"
Her new CD, "Cry," is closer to opera than Opry, one formulaic crescendo after another. She's not just a diva, she's a Valkyrie. Hill's disinterest in subtlety or song-styling might make Mariah Carey sound like Janis Ian, but then again, I haven't listened to much of either, lately.
The songs are as undistinguished as the arrangements, refined to blinding uniformity, are indistinguishable from one another. The music's almost irrelevant anyway for the singer who sold eight million copies of her last album, 1999's "Breathe." The music exists as an exercise in brand extension. The plastic jewel box is stickered on both sides with promotions for "Faith Hill TV," interactive features on this "enhanced CD." It's purported to be "a behind the scenes, regularly updated look at Faith." (Not faith. Faith: her name in one form or another appears 12 times on the jewel box and stickers alone). "As a camera crew follows Faith from the studio to the stage (a stretch that runs the gamut from "A" to "B"), "you'll catch every new episode through video footage and photos." In other words, this CD (the only gateway to FHTV) is a teaser for the far-from reality "TV show."
Fourteen songs is generous for a "country" singer (in the days of the LP, country albums had 9 or 10 tracks while rock and pop albums had 11 or 12, the better to save money on "mechanical" and other royalties). But as I've said, Faith Hill is a country singer like Michael Bolton is a soul singer, and like I am Ferlin Husky. "Cry" takes the concept of alt.country and turns it inside out. Faith Hill is country's biggest "anti.country" star.
(c) 2002 Wayne Robins, all rights reserved. Comments? firstname.lastname@example.org