Bill Staines reckons he's driven two million miles to and from gigs and recording sessions. This compilation includes tracks from the albums he recorded for Red House between 1993 and 2004. The tunes were remastered for this album and while there's no startling contrast between these versions and those that appeared on the original albums, this 17-track set will provide a good introduction for those unfamiliar with his work. Staines writes mainly about friendship, travel, the natural beauty of America, and, increasingly, the joys of aging and long-term relationships. Highlights include "Journey Home" with its yearning penny whistle and Celtic melancholy, "Distances and Miles," a country flavored meditation on love gone wrong but fondly remembered, and "Where Does the Love Go," another Celtic flavored song of lost love, with a yearning, dramatic arrangement. Staines tips his hat to the muse on "When I Hear the Music Play," a celebration of the power of music and the jaunty "So Sang the River," a rollicking salute to music, travel, and the wide open spaces of the American West. He closes the collection with the old Shaker hymn "How Can I Keep from Singing," a tune that could be his theme song, delivered simply with buoyant waves of swelling synthesizer and his own simple lead guitar embroidering the melody.
AllMusic Review by j. poet