Songbook - A Collection Of Hits

Trisha Yearwood

MCA Records, 1997



She had to get hot or go home. Just about a decade later, Trisha Yearwood introduced a greatest hits package that chronicled one of the most popular country music careers in history, a significant feat given the new world-wide popularity of the genre.

A-list songwriter Diane Warren's "How Do I Live" has had big-time airplay here in Asia, where we were fortunate enough to have it released instead of the LeAnn Rimes version. Yearwood's version has better backgroud arrangements and a distinctly sincere vocal (remember the old cliche about all the prerequisite suffering in country music), making Rimes' version sound a tad juvenile (how do I "leave" without you?).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Country music has become more pop with even non-US residents topping the charts (Canadian Shania Twain). But people who've bought Songbook because of "How Do I Live" may be disappointed, for the rest of the album isn't nearly as pop. The Garth Brooks duet "In Another's Eyes" and even the cover of Melissa Etheridge's "You Can Sleep While I Drive" are less mainstream but more country. The Aaron Neville duet "The Song Remembers When" has been redone to a Yearwood only version which isn't quite "radio" compared to the Grammy-winning original.

It's still an impressive country music career. Her debut "She's In Love With The Boy" is still a swinging all-American ode to true, wholesome love and its nineties version "Perfect Love" is just as foot-stomping upbeat (if less imaginative in lyrics). "Walkaway Joe" fulfills my concept of a perfect country song with its quietly emotional vocals and music video lyrics. "On A Bus To St. Cloud" is similar in quality with nary a breath of another world in its deceptively simple arrangement.

But a majority of the ballads including "The Woman Before Me" and "Down On My Knees" are bland overall, not giving much room for Yearwood to emote. "XXX's And OOO's (An American Girl)" tries but isn't as fun-loving as "Believe Me Baby (I Lied)" or "Perfect Love". "The Flame" is a gospel number that doesn't quite sound inspired, a song lacking of Yearwood's sincerity. "Save The Land" with Lee Kernaghan is a curious song about ... environmentalism? Can't tell ... that ends this collection in a wholly inappropriate way.

Trisha Yearwood has become so hot, she's going into what's regarded as the next step these days; acting. While that's a questionable venture, her music is still a solid and acclaimed body of work. Songbook, however, may not be the best place to look for it.

Rating: B

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