Beautiful: The Hits Collection

by: Bethany Dillon

Not many recording artists are ready for a hits collection before turning 23, but Bethany Dillon got started early, releasing her self-titled debut album in 2004, when she was 15. Although the influence of Jennifer Knapp has been cited frequently, Dillon, with her breathy, emotional alto and her folk/pop/rock arrangements of highly produced tracks, clearly spent a lot of time listening to Amy Grant's albums of the 1980s, and she does a convincing impersonation of Grant in her cover of "Lead Me On." Like many CCM artists, Dillon tends to de-emphasize doctrine in favor of a personal relationship with God that finds her singing a lot about her own feelings before adding in the chorus that "you" are "All That I Need" or that "All That I Can Do" "is follow after you." The album also includes some songs of the singer's that have been used in movies, which also may support the religious soft-pedaling. These include the AC hit "Dreamer," from the movie of the same name, "Hero" from the Chronicles of Narnia soundtrack, and "When You Love Someone" from Bridge to Terabithia. And, of course, there are examples of overt religious statement, such as "Holy Is the Lord" and "How Great Is Our God," though it is notable that Dillon did not participate in the writing of them. The album effectively gathers up the highlights of the singer's career to date and was probably intended to give her a little breathing room in her career after the birth of her first child in June 2010. ~ William Ruhlmann

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