Prime Cuts: Wise Beyond Her Tears, Walk Me to the Front Door, Did I Hear You Say
The 90s marked a decade of many restless feet. It was a decade where many Contemporary Christian music artists felt that they have not really "made it" unless they have a cross-over secular hit. Amy Grant, Kathy Troccolli, Susan Ashton, Gary Chapman, Michael W. Smith, and Kim Hill were some of names that felt a need to cross pollinate genres. Of this class of cross-pollinating Christian artists, Amy Grant and Kathy Troccolli were the ones that passed with honors. Both ladies not only were about to secular Billboard Hot 100 hits, they were also able to move millions of records from the shelves into the record collections of legions of fans. Grant and Troccolli were perhaps the exception. The rest were not quite as successful.
For Kim Hill, even in her earlier efforts, she has always had a country music streak in her. Thus, after three relatively successful CCM albums,Hill signed with the now dysfunctional BNA Records (formerly the imprint of John Anderson & Lorrie Morgan) and released her only country music record to date, So Far, So Good. Despite being her foray into country music, Hill did not abandon her Christian roots on this record. She has enlisted Wayne Kirkpatrick (Jill Philips, Michael W. Smith) to helm this record. And her beloved friend Amy Grant shows up as the co-writer of the song "Is There Any Love Left." Moreover, Hill closes the album with "When We're Home," a rambling old school Gospel number that bears the threads of those heavenly spirituals with lots of worshipful hollers and choir shout-outs.
The rest of the album is not exactly devoid of any Christian content. In fact, "Wise Beyond Her Tears," arguably the album's most single-worthy track, fits into what we would classify as "inspirational" number. "Wise Beyond Her Tears" tells of the tale of a wizened woman who refuses to let her brokenness colour her future. Wayne Kirkpatrick not only functions as the album's producer, but he also services as the album's major writer. Here he contributes two of the record's best ballads: the pensive acoustic "Can't Remember to Forget About You" and the ultra-romantic "Walk Me to the Front Door."
Nevertheless,despite the optimism of the album, "So Far, So Good" was the first and last country album for Hill. Her success in the Christian market didn't translate into secular country radio. Part of her failure was the wrong choice of her lead single. "Janie's Gone Fishin'," a funky brassy feminist number telling the story of how a woman left her husband in order to fish for another lover, just didn't gel with Hill's Christian image. Further, Hill sounds so disengaged in the song, one wonders why she cut the song in the first place. A better choice would have been "Wise Beyond Her Tears" or the upbeat "Did I Hear You Say." The latter has all the imprints of a 90s country hit with an irresistible melody basking the lyrics about a woman stricken with love. Moreover, Kirkpatrick and Amy Grant's "Is There Any Love Left" is also single material. A track that brings out the shades of emotions from Hill's husky low-alto.
"So Far, So Good," at the end of the day, still remains one of Hill's best album. Despite a few hiccups, the songs were well-chosen and they are on par with the best of 90s country music then.