Patsy Cline had a voice in a million from the first moment she opened her mouth in front of a microphone, but it took a few years for her to fully hit her stride as a singer -- and to get the sort of material she truly deserved. Such are the flaws in this collection of sides Cline recorded during her early tenure at Four Star Records; while she had found a more than sympathetic producer in Owen Bradley, who conjured up some beautiful countrypolitan settings for her, Four Star was calling the shots in terms of material, and while they occasionally found just the right song for her (most notably "Walkin' After Midnight" and "Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray"), this collection has more than its share of cuts in which Patsy is swimming uphill against tunes that just aren't her style (most notably the aggressively cheerful "Come On In [And Make Yourself at Home]" and the treacly "Life's Railway to Heaven"). And while Cline is in fine voice on all 19 cuts, there's a grace and confidence on her later Decca sides that these recordings lack. There are plenty of pearly moments here, but overall the Four Star recordings document a brilliant singer learning the ropes before she fully found her style and got the songs to match; The Essential First Recordings hits the high points from this period, the sound quality is fine, and the packaging is attractive, so this is a great way for the curious to explore this part of Patsy Cline's career, but all should be advised that this lacks most of her biggest hits and best recordings.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming