Take Me As I Am
Performer: Faith Hill
Artist: Larry Stewart; Lari White
Engineer: John Kelton; Michael Clute...
Distributor: WEA (Distributor)
Notes: Personnel: Faith Hill, Larry Stewart (vocals); Don Potter, Bill Watson (acoustic guitar); Brent Mason, Dan Huff (electric guitar); Paul Franklin (steel guitar, dobro); Jerry Douglas (dobro); Stuart Duncan (mandolin, fiddle); Rob Hajacos (fiddle); John Catchings (cello); John Barlow Davis (piano); Bill Cuomo (synthesizer); Edgar Meyer (acoustic bass); Glenn Worf, Michael Rhodes (bass); Lonnie Wilson, Harry Stinson (drums); Terry McMillan (percussion); Karen Staley, Victoria Shaw, Ron Wallace, Cindy Richardson Walker, Mark Luna, Lari White, Mary Ann Kennedy, Pam Rose, Gary Burr (background vocals). Producers: Scott Hendricks, Michael Clute, Gary Burr. Recorded at Woodland Recording Studios, Midtown Tone And Volume, and The Soundshop, Nashville, Tennessee. Listen to this fairy tale. A beautiful homecoming queen who aspires to be a singer leaves her small Mississippi town, arrives in Nashville, releases a debut album, and immediately scores a stream of #1 hits. Well, the story is true. The singer is Faith Hill, direct from a town called Star. On TAKE ME AS I AM, the strawberry-maned, country-thrush exhibits a warm, satin voice, deceptively strong, with a slight, fragile quiver reminiscent of Dolly Parton. She has a liquid, vocal strength similar to that of her idol, Reba McEntire, but devoid of Reba's overwrought vocal gymnastics. From the defiant, teenage-rebel anthem "Wild One" to her brave, countrified remake of Janis Joplin's signature rocker "Piece Of My Heart," Hill stakes out the wide territory between traditional and contemporary country, most notably in the classic-sounding "But I Will." In this impeccably produced (by boyfriend Scott Hendricks) album, Faith doesn't shy away from important topics. In "I Would Be Stronger Than That," she tackles domestic violence. Unlike the aggressive tact of Martina McBride's "Independence Day," Faith takes a more reflective stance. With her striking looks, full-bodied vocals, and strong material, TAKE ME AS I AM, poises Faith Hill as the next queen of country music. Faith Hill's debut established the willowy singer as the lady-in-waiting to Reba McEntire's throne. Like McEntire, Hill's voice could crackle just as well as it sparkled, and Take Me as I Am allowed her to do both. The wide-open abandon of the hit single "Wild One" was immediate and undeniable, and Hill delivered the vocal with sassy, youthful exuberance. But she was just as convincing on the low-key heart-tugger "Just About Now" and the Gary Burr-penned ballad "Just Around the Eyes." She figured out a way to channel Janis Joplin's vocal during a country-fried retelling of "Piece of My Heart," in spite of a canned meat-quality backing track, and handled the Larry Steward duet "I've Got This Friend" with ease. By focusing Hill's vocal and supporting her with unobtrusive instrumentation, producers Burr and Scott Hendricks helped make Take Me as I Am that much more effective, and ensured that no one would forget about Hill anytime soon. ~ Johnny Loftus
Rolling Stone (2/10/94, p.46) - "...show[s] an appeal that runs deeper than a pretty face..." Entertainment Weekly (12/10/93, p.79) - "...Faith Hill might seem a Reba McEntire clone without the histrionics, but Hill lacks her contrivance and goes for a wider scope of material..." - Rating: B+
By the end of the 1990s, Faith Hill (n�e Audrey Faith Perry) had become half of the First Couple of Country Music--the nickname given to her and her husband, fellow superstar Tim McGraw. Hill combines Cover Girl good looks (literally--she was a model for the cosmetics company) with a big, powerful voice that mixes influences from pop, gospel, rock, and classic country. In 1999, Hill crossed over to the pop charts with her worldwide smash single "This Kiss." Ever since then, she's been as much a pop diva as a country siren, though her passionate duets with McGraw continue to delight country fans.
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