Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., April 12, 2002
Sara HickmanFaithful Heart (Sleeveless) She's been making music for a long time now, but Sara Hickman has never made a disc that's as complete a listening experience as Faithful Heart. A collection of love songs, some original, others from the songbooks of the Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joni Mitchell, Crowded House, Jennifer Warnes, and Nat King Cole, Faithful Heart is nearly perfect in creating a sensual mood and never breaking the spell. The remarkable thing about the album is that Hickman takes chances, more than she's done before, and the results are captivating. The scene is set with "No Name for Love," a pensive, lilting duet with David Batteau. From there, using cello, violin, trumpet, a variety of guitar sounds, and her clear, liquid voice, Hickman travels through an assortment of styles that flows with extraordinary ease. She rearranges Mitchell's "Chelsea Morning" into a folksy psychedelic tour de force. She performs a duet with her husband, Lance Schriner, on the Finn Brothers' "It's Only Natural" that could've been saccharine, yet isn't and maintains the song's unsurpassed spirit. The centerpiece of Favorite Heart is the Beth Neilson Chapman-composed title track that Hickman turns into a hymn of sorts, which shows her devotion to the love that permeates the entire project, and is repeated in a haunting "voices only" version that closes the disc. In the liner notes, Hickman suggests you "play these songs loud with candles and incense and someone you adore (who adores you back)," and she's created the perfect mood enhancer for such a scenario. The rest, as they say, is up to you.