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Originally published June 8, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 8, 2007 at 2:01 AM

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Faith Hill and Tim McGraw are twice as nice together

You gotta have faith in Faith and Tim. Even after 10 years of marriage and three kids, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw still appear ......

Special to The Seattle Times

Concert preview


Soul II Soul 2, with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, 7:30 p.m. Thursday,

Tacoma Dome, $50.75-$90.75 (206-628-0888 or www.ticketmaster.com).

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You gotta have faith in Faith and Tim.

Even after 10 years of marriage and three kids, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw still appear — at least publicly — to have the kind of passion that usually lasts only in love songs.

Separately, Hill and McGraw are multiplatinum, multi-award-winning stars, each with a distinct yet broadly appealing style of country music. But together, they have a palpable chemistry that makes their recorded duets sparkle and their live shows sizzle.

That sizzle made the couple's 2006 joint tour the highest-grossing country tour in history. They'll be at it again Thursday at the Tacoma Dome.

There's something a little voyeuristic about watching a couple perform together — think Sonny and Cher, Ike and Tina or Johnny and June (Cash). Hill and McGraw have no qualms about letting the audience into their personal lives on songs like "Let's Make Love," from Hill's 2000 release "Breathe."

But watching the two interact, it seems clear that Hill and McGraw's relationship is no act. Same goes for their music.

They've both made successful careers out of an honest, no-frills delivery, even though Hill's music has a pop polish and McGraw has been known to stray from lyrical sincerity toward goofy, lighthearted anthems like "I Like It, I Love It" and "Down on the Farm."

Concert preview


Soul II Soul 2, with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, 7:30 p.m. Thursday,

Tacoma Dome, $50.75-$90.75 (206-628-0888 or www.ticketmaster.com).

McGraw was originally pegged as just one of the Garth Brooks clones to hit the country scene in the '90s. Now he commands the tough-yet-sensitive country market, backed by a group of top-notch musicians who have all been with him at least as long as Hill.

Hill veered off the country track into full pop-diva mode with her 2002 release "Cry" but has since found a comfortable medium between the two genres, with music that always showcases her unmistakable throaty alto.

Both Hill's 2005 release "Fireflies" and McGraw's 2007 hit "Let It Go" emphasize personal, intimate storytelling. Even though neither of them writes many of their songs, they deliver snapshots of Southern living like a friend sharing a beer, whether it's at a barbecue or in a dive bar.

And that's not an act, either. Hill, 39, grew up in the aptly named Mississippi town of Star; McGraw, 40, hails from Delhi, La. Neither finished college, but both were crush-worthy American teens: she a cheerleader and prom queen, he a baseball player and frat guy during his short stint at Northeast Louisiana University.

After paying early career dues (Hill sold Reba McEntire T-shirts and worked as a secretary; McGraw played Nashville clubs and released a belly-flopping debut), Hill and McGraw found their respective musical footings and a wide-reaching fan base. In 1996, they found each other, while Hill was McGraw's opening act on his Spontaneous Combustion Tour.

To say Music City has been good to the two is an understatement. At latest count, each has sold more than 30 million albums, and together they've brought in a collective six Grammy awards, 22 Country Music Association awards and 35 No. 1. singles.

They've never recorded an album together, although they regularly feature duets on their individual recordings, a winning showcase of their sex appeal.

He's both manly and sweet in his ever-present black cowboy hat. Hill, ever since dumping her pre-"Breathe" girl-next-door image, has been country's number-one pin-up girl. Together, it's almost too much to handle.

Almost.

Joanna Horowitz: jbhorowitz@gmail.com

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