Amy Grant

Greatest Hits 1986-2004

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It may be hard to believe, but A&M/UTV's 2004 release Greatest Hits 1986-2004 is the first compilation of Amy Grant's to be released since 1986's The Collection. In that time, she went from CCM to secular pop music and back again, scoring several big hits in the late '80s and early '90s. Appropriately, that era dominates Greatest Hits, with a great majority of the album hailing from 1988-1994; in fact, nearly half of her biggest album, 1991's Heart in Motion, is here. Some of this material is religious, including the previously unreleased opener, "The Water," but most of this sounds and feels like adult contemporary pop of the time, which shouldn't be surprising because songs like "Baby Baby" and the Peter Cetera duet "The Next Time I Fall" defined the sound of the mainstream pop sound of the turn of the decade. While the production of this music is undoubtedly dated -- the keyboard bass, synthesized backing, and surface gloss pin it to the year, if not very month, of release -- it nevertheless has aged surprisingly well for two reasons. First, the songs featured on Greatest Hits were constructed with genuine skill, from the writing to the production; even if the sound of the record is dated, that popcraft means they're still appealing, years after their release. Second, Grant is a very appealing singer. Not only does she have a warm, sweet voice that enlivens these highly polished productions, but she has a charming, everywoman persona that makes them easily relatable. Her strengths are most apparent on those hits from 1988-1994 that make for the bulk of the album, but the revelation of Greatest Hits is that she produced a consistently enjoyable body of work, with the late-'90s/early-2000s work and the new songs holding their own with the better-known material. And that's what makes Greatest Hits 1986-2004 not only a good portrait of Grant, it makes it one of the best adult contemporary pop albums of its kind. [Initial pressings of Greatest Hits 1986-2004 contain a bonus disc with remixes of "Every Heartbeat," "That's What Love Is For," "I Will Remember You," and "House of Love."]

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