Review of Whiskey On My Breath by Love and Theft

546f7b22d69dec61a4000033 Review by Taylor Ostrick The hardest thing about success is not only maintaining it, but finding a way to follow it up with more success. Many talented bands and artists have succumbed to the fate of becoming “one hit wonders” after failing to continue producing quality material after achieving a brief flash of fame and popularity from an unexpected hit that shot up the charts. Duo Love and Theft (comprised of Eric Gunderson and Stephen Barker Liles) had that type of hit with their first #1 song “Angel Eyes” back in 2011, but have since struggled to recapture such prosperity at country radio. Their newest release, Whiskey On My Breath, (their first record since the self titled album that spawned “Angel Eyes,”) with it’s clean pop-country approach could be the one to elevate this gifted duo right back to the top of the charts, and help them reclaim the critical and commercial success that they fleetingly experienced on their previous record. loveandtheft2 The most notable difference between Whiskey On My Breath and Love and Theft’s past albums is how they have grown into a more refined and polished sound, one that they execute with confidence and increased maturity. The duo carries out this perfect pop-country formula in their new album with soaring hooks and breezy charm, held together by tight harmonies and a glossy production that fits perfectly with Liles and Gunderson’s contemporary style. The pop influence lends itself to a more hook driven sound which combines beautifully with the duos vocals (which are very strong throughout the entire album), and is readily apparent on the majority of Whiskey On My Breath. Love and Theft brings shades of old Rascal Flatts, another heavily pop influenced country act to their sound. loveandtheft4 Also worth mentioning is the fact that Love and Theft parted ways with their label since 2011 RCA Nashville, and worked with their own independent label cleverly named Hate and Purchase Music to create Whiskey On My Breath. One would think losing the support of a big name label would be harmful, but the duo seem to have instead flourished with the newfound freedom that working independently has granted them. This creative freedom likely lends itself to Barker and Gunderson’s confidence on this new record, as they were afforded the rare opportunity to pursue a style and brand of music that they believed in as artists with fewer regulations and boundaries. loveandtheft10 With the album’s first single and title track “Whiskey On My Breath” the duo sought to go back to the basics of what makes country music great. That meant storytelling, depicting real life experiences and deep and meaningful subject matter. “Whiskey On My Breath” is a beautifully written song that effortlessly check off each of these markers, and gives the band a career defining song. Known mostly for more upbeat and airy tracks, this song proves the versatility of the duo, and demonstrates that they are capable of dealing with more mature material. Liles and Gunderson’s harmonies shine through in the chorus, and their delivery portrays the emotion present in the song perfectly. loveandtheft9 “Can’t Wait for the Weekend” is a cool track the opens the album up with an edgier feel. It’s really one of the only “party” song on the album and it serves to kick off the record with energy, and enthusiasm. “Hang Out Hung Over” is one of the other songs that may be put in the “party” category, but it is less overtly so. It’s ambivalent instrumentation stands out and it features very glossy production. “Can’t Stop Smiling’s” irresistible sing-a-long quality and light-hearted tone make it another single candidate for the duo to consider, and the sentimental “Like I Feel It” rounds the album out on a strong note on the back half the the track listing. loveandtheft5 “Anytime Anywhere” is a romantic mid-tempo song that takes full advantage of the duo’s smooth harmonies and has the feeling of a future single. “Anytime Anywhere” has a charming quality to it, and it’s a distinctive song that will be memorable to listeners. The chorus has a cyclical, looping element to it that allows it to get stuck in your head even after just one or two listens. This track also showcases one of the duo’s best vocal performances on Whiskey On My Breath. loveandtheft12 Easy” is another romantic track that sounds so much like something that could be an old Rascal Flatts song that it’s actually a bit startling. It has more twangy instrumentation then most of the other songs on Whiskey On My Breath, and a tremendous chorus that will serve to draw listeners in. “Easy” is another song that could be a potential single in the future. loveandtheft3 The slower paced but very wise “Everybody Drives Drunk” is one of the most relatable songs on the record. It portrays the message that no matter who you are, everyone experiences failure, the feeling of being lost and loneliness at some point in their life. Everybody messes up and makes big mistakes, but those negative moments in life are just part of being human. This song communicates these things should be used as learning experiences. The toned down production on “Everybody Drives Drunk” allows the duo’s soft vocals to be a focal point on the track. loveandtheft6 With Whiskey On My Breath Love and Theft come into their own artistically. They discover a more mature and polished pop driven sound that fits their musical style, and they execute that sound perfectly. The result is a stylistically refined and fresh set of songs delivered with confidence from Liles and Gunderson that have the potential to help them once again regain their footing on the country music charts.   Rate: 4/5 Stars loveandtheft8

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