After the blatant pop overtures of her last disc, 2002's double-platinum Cry, Faith Hill aims to get her old country spark back on her new CD, Fireflies. And she does display some pep on the autobiographical first single "Mississippi Girl," a kicky celebration of her roots on which the Star, Miss., native claims that success hasn't spoiled her: "A Mississippi girl don't change her ways/Just 'cause everybody knows her name/Ain't bigheaded from a little bit of fame." With all her fame and stature in Nashville, though, Hill should have been able to come up with better material than she does on this disappointing effort. "Stealing Kisses" and "We've Got Nothing but Love to Prove," in particular, are banal, basic filler that might have been excusable on her first album, but not on her seventh. The peculiarly cynical wedding song "Dearly Beloved" includes the knife-in-the-heart line, "Bow your heads and join me in a prayer for these two, who'll be together forever 'til they find somebody new." Hill sings this sour tune with little apparent enthusiasm, as if distancing herself from it. Elsewhere, "Sunshine and Summertime" is a lively but unexceptional paean to the country summers of "barefoot ladies" and "straw sombreros," while "Like We Never Loved At All" is a modestly affecting achy ballad. Hill's husband, Tim McGraw, is nowhere to be heard, though his presence might have fired his wife up.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Mississippi Girl"