I Need You, by LeAnn Rimes
After waiting some time after the initial start of the career retrospective for LeAnn Rimes, the rankdown has now come to this particular album, which was initially released for contractual obligations on LeAnn Rimes’ initial radio contract but soon thereafter came to be recognized by the artist. It is not too surprising that this collection won the support of LeAnn Rimes despite not beginning well–the album contains two soundtrack songs that were quite popular and not yet present on any of the artist’s studio albums as well as the title track, which also became a sizable hit. There are, unfortunately, at least a few cases in the music world where a label releases songs from an artist with whom they are having an estranged relationship where some of those songs, at least, become standout tracks for the artist. Such was the case, for example, with Badfinger’s Ass, an unfortunately titled album that nonetheless had the surpassingly beautiful “Apple Of My Eye” on the track list, and this album appears to belong to that list of worthy contractual obligation albums as well. How good is it aside from its hits? Let’s find out.
“Light The Fire Within” begins the album with a stirring children’s choir and an inspirational song that sounds like something that could have been on a Final Fantasy soundtrack in the best way. “I Need You” carries on that expansive mood with a passionate ode to romantic love that was a deserved hit. “But I Do Love You” has a combination between acoustic and electronic elements with gorgeous lyrics about the narrator’s love for a person even if there is a lot she doesn’t love about his absence. “You Are” combines vulnerable lyrics with somewhat artificial music that cuts against the tone of the lyrics, but which fits the dance pop that the singer was performing a lot at the time. “Soon” is a song that puts on a brave face about the narrator getting over an ex-partner soon, given adult contemporary production that certainly fits the mood well. “Can’t Fight The Moonlight” is a rousing dance pop song that was a deserved hit from “Coyote Ugly” and remains one of LeAnn Rimes’ signature songs two decades later. “Love Must Be Telling Me Something” is a twangy song that sounds like it would fit in well on country radio even now about the trouble that the narrator feels from her feelings about someone she is falling in love with. “Written In The Stars,” a duet with Elton John from Tim Rice’s Aida, fits in here as a surprising and lovely pop hit about doomed love that was, until 2021, Elton John’s most recent top 40 hit. “One Of These Days” is another song about getting over an ex-partner, but one that is less optimistic and more heartfelt than “Soon” is, and another song that seems like it was tailor-made for country radio. “I Believe In You” offers another adult contemporary love ballad about one’s belief in a loved one, with swelling swings and generally effective production. “Together, Forever, Always” offers a lovely country ballad in a waltz format that again, like a few tracks on this album, seems like obvious radio fodder. This is followed by a lovely radio remix for “Can’t Fight The Moonlight,” as well as remixes for “But I Do Love You,” “Soon,” and “I Need You,” three of which are among the strongest songs on this set.
If there is one coherent theme of this album, it is the fact that all of the songs are all either radio hits or they seem to aspire to be in one genre of another. As was the case with many other pop-country efforts during this particular period in the early oughts, female pop-country acts in particular appeared to be spread a little thin in their efforts to appeal separately to the widely disparate elements of their fanbase. So it is that this song includes soundtrack pop (Can’t Fight The Moonlight, Written In The Stars), aspirational sporting theme songs (Light The Fire Within), pop (I Need You, But I Do Love You, You Are), adult contemporary (Soon, I Believe In You), as well as country (Love Must Be Telling Me Something, One Of These Days, Together, Forever, Always). If you happen to like all of these different genres, as I do, this album is an enjoyable one throughout, but if you are more narrow in your genre interests, hopefully there are at least a few songs you like.