With over 77 minutes' worth of solid music, with Martina McBride's widescreen, emotive voice leading the way, "Hits and More" is not only a wonderful overview of the singer's impressive two-decade career, but a particularly generous one. With all of her monster hits from 1993 to 2009, it is ideal both for the casual listener seeking just hits and the fan looking for 16 years' worth of radio mainstays in one place.
Granted, it has many tracks in common with 2001's "Greatest Hits," but considering the amount of hits which have transpired since then, it is hard to fault RCA for this contract-fulfilling release. It is literally bursting with hits - precious little has been skipped or skimped, with no room left on the disc to fit more songs.
Later hits such as 2003's candy-coated "This One's For the Girls" sound at home on disc alongside earlier classics such as the swashbuckling, busy "Independence Day" and "Wild Angels." The songs are presented in order of release, portraying McBride's growth as a vocalist and as a woman; she sounds increasingly confident and assured as the album plays onward. By the end of the disc, she is a woman who has come into her own.
"Surrender," one of the new tunes, is not at all a cop-out, but a tune bursting with optimism and joie de vivre. McBride sounds calm and at ease as she sings of embracing both the bitter and the sweet with full conviction, letting the cards fall where they may. It wisely turns her veteran status among musical performers - that is to say, her age - into an asset rather than a deterrent.
She also wrings a great deal of emotion out of the poignant, meditative "Straight to the Bone." A song of looking back on someone both beloved and departed, it is poised to both break and comfort many hearts.
"Being Myself," which was actually cut for a Target exclusive release back in 2004, provides a strong and apt 12 o'clock number. Self-examining and yet simultaneously bouncy and unserious, it is an apt conclusion for a career retrospective, tying everything together.
"Hits and More" demonstrates that McBride is a classy, capable vocalist with much power, nuance and grace. It not only reminds us of just how many hits she has recorded over the years, but also of her ability to surely record many more of them in the future.