Every year during the Valentine's season, major labels comb their catalogs, issuing generic compilations of love songs. Usually, they are cobbled-together messes. Every once in a while you get a collection that holds up as an album, and this set of love songs by country music chameleon Vince Gill is one of them. He compiled this set himself, and his own subtle approach to making music informs this 14-song collection, spanning the years 1990-2006; it’s as tastefully sequenced as it is selected. It begins with the stellar “One,” from the 2000 album Let’s Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye. It’s driven by his acoustic guitar, sparse electric guitar fills, an insistent but minimal electric piano, and a muffled drum kit with painterly Rhodes piano fills. It’s a song of commitment, solidarity, and the promise of a love that becomes as it develops over time. It’s the frame for this album. There are a pair of hit singles in this mix in “What They Call Love,” and “When Love Finds You,” but the emphasis here isn’t on hits, it’s on the all-encompassing, sometimes contradictory nature of love. Gill wrote or co-wrote every tune in this batch. Because of his understatement, his exquisite taste when it comes to production, and his willingness to stretch contemporary country music’s borders, he comes across as sophisticated sure, but also as genuine. The gut string guitars that open “You and You Alone” introduce his protagonist, who states plainly that he’s willing to wait or elope in a moment. He’s aware of the consequences in every choice we have to make and he’s willing to pay them. The lilting, retro bluesy, swinging jazz in “Faint of Heart” is a duet with Diana Krall; it’s about the pleasures of love that’s free of cliche. Thankfully, he also included the old-school country love song “The Only Love” from his brilliant These Days album from 2006. Pedal steel and electric guitars, fuel this four/four ballad about the simple pleasures of loving one person for life. Gill’s done something that few in his field have accomplished: assembled a collection of love songs that’s based on aesthetics as well as theme.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek