When I listen to Ginny Owens, I want to hear her. I want to hear a story in song, or have her share an observation--to put in verse what she is seeing through the eyes of her heart. I don't need it buried under layers of production or intricate music.
I love the simplicity and vulnerability in what may be her best song, which also happens to be the title song for this "best of" collection. "If You Want Me To" so wonderfully captures a childlike faith. It's a song that disarms me. This version is a live recording that includes an introduction by Michael W. Smith and extended commentary by Ginny. It was originally released on A Night in Rocketown. Although some might prefer the original, it's a bonus to get the background behind the song.
When she approaches the heights that she reaches in "If You Want Me To" on songs like "Call Me Beautiful," "Wonderful Wonder"--a new radio remix and a pop gem, and "Fellow Traveler," she is at her best. Two songs from her first release, "Free" and "I Wanna Be Moved" have also held up well despite the passage of time. The beautiful duet with Mark Schultz on "Remember Me" is a unique addition. You don't often hear another artist's song on a greatest hits recording, but this fits in well with her best songs.
Ginny also soars in her soulful pop mode on "Live Once." Included in this release is a DVD that showcases three songs from her House of Blues concert in New Orleans and a studio performance of "Live Once." These performances, which are excellent, are broken-up by a couple of short black and white interview segments. The DVD is approximately 20 minutes long.
Songs like "Something More," "40" from Apt*Core's Rhythms of Remembrance, and the new Latin-flavored "Open Arms" are interesting, but they shift the focus from her songwriting and vocals. The chorus on "Open Arms" seems a little generic and the music and production make her sound like someone else.
Hearing what producer Rick Rubin did for Johnny Cash, and being excited about his work with U2, I would love to see Ginny team-up with someone like him. Strip away the layers of music and give us the raw and vulnerable Ginny. I'll take that over a lot of fancy production.
This recording contains moments of brilliance and good songwriting and performances. Without wanting to take away anything from this fine collection, I can't help thinking that the best of Ginny Owens is still to come. These songs will hopefully serve as a foretaste of even better things in the future.
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
What's your opinion on If You Want Me To: The Best of Ginny Owe...?