Straddling the line between pop and new age, Jim Brickman's mellow piano compositions evoke romance, hope, and quiet inspiration. Brickman first made his name in the mid-1990s as a Windham Hill artist--one of the few solo instrumentalists to have scored a Billboard hit--and branched out from there with some pop and country collaborations, Christmas recordings, and an album of classic Disney covers. By 2000 he had adopted the musical persona of the suave but menschy romantic that, coupled with his clean-cut good looks, earned him an adoring female audience. Brickman split with Windham Hill in 2005, but continues to own the Adult Contemporary charts.
While many Jim Brickman fans claim a stronger allegiance to the pianist/songwriter's non-vocal works, even they have to concede that the Cleveland native has an uncanny touch for crafting catchy, affecting love songs. Many of Brickman's best-known heart-tuggers are on display here, a relatively brief disc (43 minutes) that samples nine of the 10 recordings released during the first decade (1994-2003) of Brickman's career. The breakdown: Five instrumental tracks (one of them "Partners in Crime," his oversaxed, smooth jazz-targeted duet with Dave Koz), six older vocal selections, and two new vocal tracks--the winner being "'Til I See You Again," an engaging, upbeat piece authored by producer David Grow and sung with from-the-mountaintop vigor by Christian vocalist Mark Schultz. Outside of the straining, Mariah Carey-like excesses of "Destiny," the selections here are easy to digest, yet they exhibit a level of sophistication that smartly counteracts their modest saccharine/sentimentality content. This is no small feat--a testament to Brickman's intuitive link to deeper, hard-to-articulate human yearnings and his connection to clear-eyed romantics searching for an antidote to a world gone wild with cynicism. --Terry Wood
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