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Why a best of with only
a handful of hits?

Lisa Loeb - The Very Best of Lisa Loeb
2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Feb. 22, 2006
Lisa Loeb

Review by Andy Argyrakis

Even though she's most consistently pegged by her role on the "Reality Bites" soundtrack twelve years ago, Lisa Loeb has maintained an active recording and television career responsible for additional hits in both fields. The singer/songwriter may be forever remember for her acoustic gem "Stay" (which made history by being the first chart topper ever recorded by an unsigned artist) but a perusing through The Very Best of Lisa Loeb indicates a handful of other familiar pieces. And besides scoring additional airtime since debuting with her signature black rimmed cat glasses. the troubadour turned small screen star has also participated in 2004's "Dweezil and Lisa" on The Food Network, along with the brand new series "#1 Single" on E! Entertainment Television.

Though this disc is perfectly timed to cross promote that show (tracing the songstress' very own reality-styled dating adventures) and the eighteen-track project is comprehensive, the journey through such tunes doesn't exactly bubble over with a whole lot of magnetism along the way. Sure, "Stay" is an essential staple that holds up even with age and there are a handful of others worth humming (including fellow radio mainstays "Do You Sleep?" and "I Do") but there's also quite a bit of pedestrian acoustic ballads and all too many annoyingly cutesy expressions. A guilty case in point comes with the slow going sap of "Falling In Love," which is riddled with orchestration throughout and tries to tell a romantic tale with the compelling ease of Lyle Lovett but winds up coming across like a sorrowful soap opera. Her latest on the radio radar "Single Me Out" (not so coincidentally the theme song for #1 Single) may kick up the pacing with more electric instrumentation, but the lyrics are predictable and obviously tailored for television.

While material from Loeb's first two full lengths Tails and Firecracker have their fair share of hooks, more introspective and stripped down cuts from Cake and Pie and The Way It Really Is don't warrant as much attention. Of course, those observations can be confirmed by the limited chart action of songs like "Bring Me Up," "Underdog" and "Fools Like Me," which don't even come close to her "Stay" heyday. Despite these distractions, the compilation is at least representative of her career as a whole, which for better or worse will probably delight her followers. While more distant appreciators will question the need for a "best of" with only a handful of hits, they're best off happily downloading their favorites or sticking with the multi-artist soundtrack from which Loeb found fame.

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