The singer we now know as Faith Hill was born in Star, Mississippi on September 21, 1967. She was adopted as an infant and given the name Audrey Faith Perry. She attended an Elvis concert in Jackson, Mississippi when she was almost nine, and was quite impressed. As a teen, she performed at churches. When she was 19 she moved to Nashville to pursue a music career. She married music publishing executive Daniel Hill in 1988 and in 1993 released her solo debut TAKE ME AS I AM (Warner Bros). It was produced by Scott Hendricks except for the song ‘Just Around the Eyes’ which was produced by Michael Clute and Gary Burr. In the liner notes Faith writes: “I love you Mom and Dad. Thank you for allowing me to follow my dreams. I love you. Thank You God for Your unconditional love”. The album gave birth to four singles.
The title track is up first. ‘Take Me As I Am’ is a pleasant country tune written by Bob DiPiero and Karen Staley. It was a #2 hit for Faith in 1994. It finds a woman openly sharing from her heart with her man: “I don’t need a bed of roses/’Cause roses whither away/All I really need is honesty/From someone with a strong heart, a gentle hand/Who’ll take me as I am//Baby, I need for you to know/Just exactly how I feel/Fiery passions come and go/I’d trade a million pretty words for one touch that is real”. ‘Wild One’ penned by Jamie Kyle, Pat Bunch, and Will Rambeaux, was the album’s first single. It had been previously covered by Zaca Creek and by Evangeline. Hill’s toe-tapping version hit #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart in ’94 and spent four weeks there. It has very relatable lyrics: “They said ‘You can’t leave’/She said ‘Yes I will’/They said ‘Don’t see him’/She said ‘His name is Bill’/She’s on a roll and it’s all uphill/She’s a wild one with an angel’s face/She’s a woman-child in a state of grace/When she was three years old on her daddy’s knee/He said ‘You can be anything you want to be’/She’s a wild one runnin’ free”.
‘Just About Now’ is a country ballad of heartache: “Just about now you’d pull in the driveway/And I’d be there waving hello/Run to my arms, you’d kiss me and hold me/As if you’d never let go/And it’s just about now when the tears start to fall/I wonder if I’m gonna make it at all.../It’s just moment to moment, surviving somehow/This is not about then, this is just about now”. ‘Piece of my Heart’ was the album’s second single and became a #1 hit for Faith. It’s a cover of a 1967 song by Erma Franklin. It is a soulful song with attitude: “Well, I’m gonna show you baby that a woman can be tough/So, come on, come on, come on and take it/Take another little piece of my heart now baby/Take another little piece of my heart/I know you will/Break it/Break another little piece of my heart now baby/’Cause you know you got it if it makes you feel good, so good”.
Faith, Bruce Burch, and Vern Dant wrote ‘I’ve Got this Friend’, a duet Faith sings with Larry Stewart. It is a pre-romantic relationship song: “I’ve got this friend who is lonely/She’s afraid she’ll never find her one and only/A little shy but she can be fun/If the right guy came along/Would you know someone?/I’ve got this friend and it sounds crazy/But he’s been feeling that way too a whole lot lately/And interested, oh I’m sure he’d be/I can almost speak for him/He’s that close to me”. ‘Life’s too short to love Like That’ is a peppy country and western number about the demise of a relationship: “You never wanna kiss me anymore/You run around and I walk the floor/You know I used to mean everything to you/Now I’m last in line and that just won’t do/I feel blue, you feel trapped/Life’s too short to love like that”.
‘But I Will’ is addressed to a cheat: “I could write a book on the innocent looks you’re giving me/You’ve got one for every story you tell/I’ve seen it all and I’m not gonna fall/For those make believe tears/So, darlin’ I will try to make it clear/I don’t want to stop lovin’ you, but I will/I don’t like wakin’ up alone, but I will”. Gary Burr wrote ‘Just Around the Eyes’, a sentimental easy listening song: “Just around the eyes/That’s where you remind me of someone I left behind me/I’m sorry if I stare/But you must have stirred a memory/And it caught me by surprise/But it was only for a moment and just around the eyes”.
Trey Bruce, Thom McHugh, and Faith Hill wrote the upbeat country song ‘Go the Distance’. It is a song of positivity: “There will be rainy days and bridges left to cross/But if we lose our way we can`t get lost/If we go the distance/Let our hearts lead us on/All the way to forever tonight/Can’t resist it/The feelin’s way too strong/Go the distance this time”. Last up is the ballad ‘I Would Be Stronger than That’. It includes these down to earth thoughts: “And it isn’t my place to say ‘Leave him and run’/That no love’s worth all the damage he’s done/But if she’ll hold her ground/Then I’ll hold my tongue, ever the diplomat/Oh, I’d like to think/That I would be stronger than that.../Oh, I would be stronger/I would not stay one minute longer/I would be stronger than that”.
TAKE ME AS I AM is a superb, easily accessible country music debut from Faith Hill. Her vocal delivery of the songs is sincere. You can tell she really put her all into this project. There is a nice mix of fast and slow songs. These ten songs really capture male-female romantic relationships well-both the ups and the downs. Musicians used include: Terry McMillan (congas, cymbals, tambourine, and percussion), Stuart Duncan (mandolin, fiddle), and John Catchings (cello). Background vocalists include: Lari White, Pam Rose, Mary Ann Kennedy, and Gary Burr. I’m recommending TAKE ME AS I AM to fans of Reba McEntire and Trisha Yearwood, and rating it 100%. For more info visit: www.faithhill.com.