So I've just begun on a bit of a Final Fantasy music marathon, and with the two Vocal Collections being some of my favorite VGM albums of all time, I've decided to start with those.
Having listened through Pray and Love Will Grow, I've concluded that they are wonderful pieces of work that continue to hold up well today. They're still among the best arranged efforts in the series; if there's a rendition of the Main Theme of FFIV that's better than Long Distance, with its masterful blending of wispy flute and rich, adventurous-sounding string work, I haven't heard it. Same goes for the deep and spiritually resonating version of Tina in Wanderer of Time, and the perfect marriage of the Final Fantasy theme and soaring pop-ballad in the first Collection's title track Pray. Not even Emiko Shiratori's Message ~Rainbow~ can match up. (Which I'm including here too, since it is a lovely vocal rendition in its own right.)
But for Love Will Grow, I think Adam Corn's review said it best: "Better still is "Love Will Grow", which takes the spotlight in this soundtrack. It is one of the most beautiful and moving songs I've heard in my life; the amount of emotion present is astounding." With that said, I have to ask you, Adam: does that statement still hold true for yourself today? Because it certainly does for me. From the gentle, uplifting lyrics and flowing piano backdrop to the potent emotional heft by choir's end.... it's all satisfyingly appropriate for a piece that's originally titled "Finale."
Every other track in between is just as great. The bossa-nova styling of Eternal Wind and Estrelas, the playful Mon P'tit Chat and Have You Ever Seen Me, the jazzy-swingin' good time of Ohki and Noguchi's duet in Prelude, and the soulfully hymn-like Cradle of God.