Jim Brickman: Ultimate Love Songs – The Very Best of Jim Brickman

Counting compilations, the ballad-loving pianist Jim Brickman has released an astounding 22 albums since 1994, all of them virtually indistinguishable from one another to anyone not cursed with a bottomless thirst for treacle and a superhuman tolerance for schmaltz. Album number 22, Ultimate Love Songs: The Very Best of Jim Brickman, collects some of Brickman’s best-known collaborations with vocalists, adds four new tracks for good (?) measure, and even tacks on a wonderful liner notes essay from Brickman himself (“My songs calm the frenzy, and wrap the listener in a soothing blanket of melody”). If you’re a fan of early ‘90s adult contemporary music, Ultimate Love Songs is a veritable feast for the ears, featuring Martina McBride, Michael W. Smith, Collin Raye, and many others (oh yes, There Will Be Bolton) – but if you’ve got any sort of affection for rock music, then listening to this album will make you want to die. It’s just one hokey love song after another, many of them performed by cornpone country singers well past their commercial prime (two notable exceptions: Wayne Brady, whose vocals on “Beautiful” will make you wish a bitch had choked him, and Jane Krakowski of “30 Rock). It’s calculated, connect-the-dots stuff that all sounds pretty much the same, and a little of it goes an awfully long way – but if you’re one of Brickman’s many, many fans, it’ll give you another soothing blanket of melody to cuddle up under until Album 23 comes along. (Time Life 2009)

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