Faith Hill enjoys the simpler things. Her own music, for example. Thursday night at Wolf Trap, the marginally country superstar so clearly and thoroughly enjoyed herself onstage that it was impossible not to enjoy the show right along with her, regardless of one's feelings about Hill's oeuvre.
Hill doesn't possess one of the biggest voices in Nashville, and she sometimes compensates by throwing herself at a pop song the way a wedge breaker on the kickoff team would an opposing blocker. Rare was the chorus that didn't find Hill screaming, with the veins in her neck popping out and her eyes wide shut. But, along with being visually stunning in a black T-shirt and slit red skirt rended by exposed abs, Hill can be, much like husband Tim McGraw, charming to an artful degree. She used up all the time between songs exalting her band, her family, her fans, the opening act (the adolescent screecher Jessica Andrews), local country radio deejays and anybody and anything else that came to mind.
But it was the freedoms Hill allowed herself during her 19-song, 105-minute set that were most engaging. Whereas acts of Hill's platinum-tinged stature--essentially all of her singles have found the top of the charts--typically won't risk an unchoreographed step on the concert stage, she on several occasions appeared blissfully lost in the moment. She pranced along like an unbroken filly while rendering her first hit, the characteristically cute "Wild One," and dizzied herself with extended, dervishlike whirls during both the crossover mega-hit "This Kiss" and the unlikely show-closer, a raucous cover of the Rod Stewart classic "Stay With Me." When Hill finally stopped spinning, her smile left the impression that she'd have danced with similar abandon were she singing alone in her living room. The crowd seemed equally happy to be in her company.