Album: Fireflies

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Album:

Fireflies

Artist: Faith Hill
Honors:
Genres:
Label: Warner Bros / Wea

It’s hard to imagine a more schizophrenic album than Fireflies, but Faith Hill, the comely pride of Star, Mississippi, had a lot of different factions to please. There’s the country set, furious about the L.A. excess of 2002’s Cry, as ravaged a pop album as ever made. Then there’s the club set, which actually mistook Cry for music, and wanted more. Finally, there’s Hill herself, still bruised from the critical drubbing the last album got, and obviously feeling the need to prove herself anew, going brunette to show her transformation. The bad…

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It’s hard to imagine a more schizophrenic album than Fireflies, but Faith Hill, the comely pride of Star, Mississippi, had a lot of different factions to please. There’s the country set, furious about the L.A. excess of 2002’s Cry, as ravaged a pop album as ever made. Then there’s the club set, which actually mistook Cry for music, and wanted more. Finally, there’s Hill herself, still bruised from the critical drubbing the last album got, and obviously feeling the need to prove herself anew, going brunette to show her transformation. The bad news about Fireflies is that the all-out country songs—the autobiographical “Mississippi Girl,” which practically begs forgiveness for Cry, and the cartoonish “Dearly Beloved,” a hoedown ditty about a shotgun wedding—are embarrassing attempts to show that the Dixified diva hasn’t gotten above her raising. Then, two other offerings—Darrell Scott’s preachy protest number “We’ve Got Nothing But Love to Prove” and the beautiful torch ballad “Paris”—are both lyrical head-scratchers, and find the artist floundering as to who she is and what she’s about. Where Hill knowingly flexes her muscle is in tackling three complex, literate songs by alt-folkie Lori McKenna—the title track (about the power of dreams), “Stealing Kisses” (about reevaluating life choices), and “If You Ask” (about living with a substance abuser). Hill gives these performances nuanced readings that say buckets more about her own life than “Mississippi Girl” could ever convey, and point to an emotional reservoir Hill is just beginning to tap. Here’s hoping she goes back to that well again and again. —Alanna Nash

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