John Berry,
I Give My Heart
(Clear Sky, 2004)

There's a genre of romantic ballads that seems to enter the witness protection program every few years. It's been called romantic pop, torch songs, adult contemporary and easy listening. Whatever it's being called this month, John Berry calls it his own. I Give My Heart gives a polish to some of the most well-known ballads, along with two original songs.

Berry knows exactly what he's doing, and he does it well. His voice, soft spoken but rough edged, seems designed for torch songs. He delivers the old standards with genuine feeling, adding a touch of melancholy longing to each piece. A sense of humble gratitude for love found adds interest and sweetness to "I Just Wanna Stop" and "Your Love Amazes Me." "Lady," delivered with lingering attention to each line, frankly eclipses the original version. Berry's two original pieces, "Will You Marry Me" and "Since the Day I Met You," blend perfectly with the rest of the compilation, showing that he understands the essence of his chosen genre and not just its surface performance.

There's nothing new in John Berry's performance. An album devoted to covering established country-pop romance songs isn't going to shatter anyone's expectations. But those looking for an album to meet those standards will be well satisfied by I Give My Heart.

- Rambles
written by Sarah Meador
published 20 August 2005

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