Hilary Erhard Duff was born on September 28th, 1987 in Houston, Texas. She starred in the hit TV show ‘Lizzie McGuire’ from 2001-2004 and became a teen idol. She has also appeared on TV shows such as ‘Law and Order: SVU’, ‘Gossip Girl’, and currently stars on ‘Younger’. Films she has starred in include: ‘A Cinderella Story’, ‘The Perfect Man’, ‘Cheaper By the Dozen’, and ‘Material Girls’. She is also an author. Hilary released her debut solo album in 2002. It was a holiday offering entitled SANTA CLAUS LANE. The next year she released her first non-holiday album METAMORPHASIS. Hilary’s latest and fifth studio album is BREATHE IN. BREATHE OUT. (2015, RCA Records).
Starting things off is the album’s first official single ‘Sparks’. It is an energetic dance number that finds Hilary being quite forthcoming with a guy: “You can promise castles, treasures, babies/I don’t care/Cause for now you’re just enough for me/I want you near/Like a fairytale to feel your breath right on my neck/You remember what I love, so baby take me back/Turn the lights down low and kiss me in the dark/Cause when you’re touching me baby I see sparks”. ‘My Kind’ is a strong pop song but is not exactly about a lifelong commitment: “I let my walls come down tonight/Will let you waste my time/I don’t care if it’s all a lie/I’m with you for the night/You’re taking me, taking me high/You’re loving me, loving me right/Think you’re one of my kind/You’re one of my kind/And so for now/Don’t want you, don’t want you to stop/I promise I won’t get enough/Think you’re one of my kind/You’re one of my kind”.
‘One in a Million’ contains these words of one who is quite confident: “I’m one in a million (2X)/You’re going down without me/Wishing that you had someone like me/I’m one in a million”. ‘Confetti’ finds Hilary infatuated: “I’m slipping under/Soon as I thought never again/Oh no, no, no, no/If I fall you better catch me/You’re turning me into confetti/I can’t sleep/My head is heavy/You’re turning me into confetti/I’m free-falling through all of the twilight/Every piece of me holds on for daylight/You freak out/You side-affect me/You’re turning me into confetti”.
Next up is the title track ‘Breathe In. Breathe Out’. This pop ballad is about the end of a romantic relationship: “X marks the spot where we left our hearts in/X marks the spot where we fell apart in/X marks the spot where we left our hearts in/I know, I know/I made a top ten list of all the things I miss/Your lying eyes and lips/They didn’t make it/And when I’m cold at night/I know that I’ll survive/Until I feel alright/I’m gonna fake it/Breathe in, breathe out (6X)”. ‘Lies’ is another song about a relationship breaking up: “We’re falling apart, we’re falling apart/Like a house of cards/And I know in my heart, I know in my heart/That this has gone too far/I’m done with your lies (2X)/Do you hear me? Do you hear me?/Can’t you see that?/Can’t you see that?/I’m done with your lies”.
‘Arms Around a Memory’ is a sultry pop song that is at times quiet and at times loud. The song conveys loneliness: “Hot sweats in cold sweaters/I feel a little lost since you’ve been gone/The blame helps you feel better/Until you run across the cloud I’m on.../You can’t put your arms around a memory (2X)/And now I’m wishing you were here/As much as I wish you would disappear/So will you remember to forget me?” ‘Stay in Love’ is a dance track that finds Hilary speaking to a love interest: “Stay in love/Give me a reason/Holding on just for the weekend/Crave the world/We’re barely breathing, oh/Stay in love/Give me a reason/Do you remember when I said, I’d die for you?/Every single day pretend it’s true/And you remember when I said I’d die for you?/Holding on for the weekend”.
‘Brave Heart’ is a pretty and light pop song that contains these words of self-talk: “Gotta let go even though I’m scared to death/I’m here alone, but I still got one thing left/I’ve got a brave heart (2X)/I got a brave heart”. ‘Tattoo’ has a very commercial pop sound and focuses on the fallout of a break-up: “You’re under my skin/Running in my bloodstream/These scars are the way that you loved me/I guess that you had to leave a tattoo on my skin”.
‘Picture This’ is a steamy song that effectively uses whistling for sound effects: “Half-dressed, sunrise/Late night, your eyes/Heartbeat, your bed/Sound out what we said/Drink after drink, watch you lean into me/I stare at the floor, bring our eyes up to me/It’s all I don’t know, your words make me weak/I’m new from the start, you’ve taken me”. ‘Night Like This’ is a great duet with Kendall Schmidt. It is another steamy affair: “Our hands fit just the right way/Our legs tangled up in this small space/The world outside feels far away as I get to know you”.
The Deluxe Edition of the album comes with two additional tracks. ‘Belong’ is a happy sounding pop song that offers these words of advice: “You can dream or you can wish upon a star/And toss your coins into a well/Or you can stare down all your fears right in their eyes/Leaving an echo that will yell.../Belong, oh-ooh-oh-oh/We’re right where we belong”. Larry Goetz plays guitar and mandolin on ‘Rebel Hearts’. It is a song of boldness: “I was born and I’ll die with a rebel heart/No, won’t apologize for the way that I shine/I’m a work of art/Now I wanna find that deep, dark kind of love/That ‘frick your mind up’ kind of love”.
In her thanks in the CD booklet Hilary writes: “What I’ve learned the most is accepting that life is not always fair and going to be exactly how you plan or imagine it. But there is beauty in acceptance and growing through all of it. Sometimes it takes a minute to understand that. Support and love is everything we need, it seems. Let’s always exude and spread that. You count, you matter, cheers to you!” BREATHE IN. BREATHE OUT. is a smart, sensible, non-trashy, pop/dance album for youth, young adults, and those who are young at heart. I recommend it to those who enjoy the musical sounds of Britney Spears, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Madonna. Themes on this record are relationship dynamics and self-esteem. Hilary’s vocals are great, as is the instrumentation presented here. The photos of Hilary accompanying this CD are hot and appealing. I’m rating BREATHE IN. BREATHE OUT. 95%. For more info visit: www.hilaryduff.com and www.rcarecords.com.