The Essential Mary Chapin Carpenter takes hits from six albums she recorded for Columbia, omitting material from her first album, Hometown Girl. Since the majority of these songs appealed to both pop and country audiences, they achieved wide crossover popularity. The 16 cuts include the original versions of Carpenter's Top Ten hits "I Feel Lucky," "Passionate Kisses," "Down at the Twist and Shout," "Quittin' Time," and her first number one hit, "He Thinks He'll Keep Her." While the majority of these tracks are also included on Party Doll and Other Favorites, the difference is Essential contains the radio versions, not alternate takes or live tracks. Both discs are recommended to fans of Carpenter's modern folk/country hybrid.
AllMusic Review by Al Campbell