After a lengthly hiatus from recording, the drought is finally over. Country diva Faith Hill, the voice behind ubiquitous crossover smashes like “This Kiss” and “Breathe” is returning with her first new album in over six years, and she’s launching her highly-anticipated new project with… a OneRepublic cover. Whaaaaat?
To see Hill end her half-decade career drought with a cover song is, by default, disheartening. An original song would have been highly preferable – something to hint at what we might have been missing during the years she was on hiatus. Of course, launching with a cover song could be forgivable, so long a it’s a good cover.
Lines like “Forgive me if I’m young for speaking out of turn” feel slightly awkward when rolling off the tongue of a woman in her early forties (and may bring back memories of Reba McEntire ‘kicking it’ with Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy”). Hill, however, demonstrates that her strong interpretive abilties remain very much intact. She turns in a hushed and restrained vocal delivery of the song’s opening verses, and as her voice gradually rises, a palpable earnesty is exuded throughout her performance.
Unfortunately, “Come Home” lacks the vibrancy and sonic stickiness of Hill’s best pop-country efforts. It suffers most from a bloated power pop arrangement that reaches a grating crescendo as the song nears its end. It’s an ineffective, misguided treatment of a song that was already an awkward fit to begin with. Far from letting the song itself pull the weight, the lyrical story is treated as mere window dressing, as if of secondary importance to the wall of needless noise that surrounds it. (The OneRepublic oringinal, in contrast, was backed primarily by a piano and a subtle string section) Despite some positive characteristics, a lack of focus shines through on the final recorded product, which makes “Come Home” feel like a letdown after having waited so long for Hill to release new music.
A redeeming vocal fails to topple the fact that, as a package, “Come Home” does not feel like a single that is worth waiting six years for. One can still hope that Hill’s upcoming album will be a solid home run, but the lead single is undoubtedly a strikeout.