After four studio albums, one live record and an acoustic EP, Rocketown recording artist Ginny Owens has released a "best-of" project spanning hits from her entire career and even including a new song entitled "Open Arms." For a greatest-hits collection, If You Want Me To is quite solid. All of the obvious hits are present, including the exceptional trio of songs from her breakthrough debut Without Condition - "Free," "If You Want Me To" and "I Wanna Be Moved." In a pleasant surprise, the collection's title track is included as a brand-new live version and is preceded by a spoken intro showcasing Ginny's infectious and self-effacing sense of humor. The song itself is beautifully and soulfully played, highlighting Ginny's great voice and emotive piano playing in a way that exceeds even the original studio recording.
Rather than simply rehashing radio hits from albums that most of Ginny's fans would already own, If You Want Me To delivers some unexpected extras, including a couple of collaborations that Ginny recorded for other projects. "Remember Me" is a duet with Mark Schultz (originally appearing on Schultz's self-titled debut) that is as beautiful as anything in Ginny's catalogue. Also, "40 (Rhythms of Remembrance)" is included - an electronica-influenced cover of U2's classic that was recorded with Apt.core. Although it is a stylistic oddity compared to the rest of her songs, it is still undeniably Owens' voice beneath all of the stylish effects and atmospheric beats.
Two new recordings are also offered. First, "Wonderful Wonder" is rerecorded from her latest studio album Long Way Home. The new version is embellished with sturdier instrumentation and a slightly faster tempo, yet does not build upon the tender beauty of the original. The brand-new song "Open Arms" is a light, yet disposable, pop tune that pales in comparison to what the rest of this collection has to offer. Despite the anti-climactic nature of the new recordings however, If You Want Me To is still a near-perfect collection of songs that show why Ginny Owens is one of the most respected names in Christian music. Seven years after her debut, Owens' songs still stand as a strong testament to her unique blend of faith, craft and selfless ambition.- Review date: 8/7/06, written by Sherwin Frias
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