Hilary Erhard Duff was born on September 28, 1987 in Houston, Texas. She played the lead character in the Disney Channel series ‘Lizzie McGuire’ from 2001-2004. She currently stars in the comedy-drama series ‘Younger’. Her first three studio albums were: SANTA CLAUS LANE (2002), METAMORPHOSIS (2003), and HILARY DUFF (2004). Fast forward to 2007 and she released her fourth studio album, DIGNITY (Hollywood Records). It debuted at #3 on the U.S. Billboard 200. Here, I am reviewing the standard 14 track version of the album. In the liner notes Hilary writes: “This is the first time I have written a record completely based on how I was feeling on any particular day. Good mood, bad mood, sad, happy, playful, funny, lonely, stressed out, or really calm and peaceful. It’s all there!!” She adds: “Most importantly, I want to thank God for loving me, guiding me, and giving me all of the blessings that I have”.
Starting things off is the album’s third single, ‘Stranger’. It hit #1 on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart and was written by Hilary, Kara DioGuardi, Vada Nobles, Derrick Haruin, and Julius ‘Logic’ Diaz. It’s a song about being disappointed in a guy: “You treat me like a queen when we go out/Wanna show everyone what our love’s about/All wrapped up in me whenever there is a crowd/But when no one’s around/There’s no kindness in your eyes/The way you look at me, it’s just not right/I can tell what’s going on this time/There’s a stranger in my life”. The title track, ‘Dignity’, follows. It takes aim at celebrity: “Where’s your dignity?.../Can’t buy respect, but you can pick up the bill.../You’d show up to the opening of an envelope!/Why?/Does everybody care about where you go?”
‘With Love’ was penned by Hilary, Kara DioGuardi, Vada Nobles, and Julius ‘Logic’ Diaz. It was the album’s second single and also a #1 hit on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. It hit #24 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Hilary speaks directly with her guy: “Slow me down, slow me down/I know you will always be around/Baby, you can be tough/Say enough is enough/I’m wrong/That I’m coming on way too strong/Don’t think I’ll be crushed/Just do it with love, love, love, love”. ‘Danger’ finds Hilary falling for a guy she knows she shouldn’t: “I’m smarter than this and know better than this/Cause there’s something really missin’ in your kiss/I’m smarter than this and know better than this/But there’s something that you got that is tough to resist/It’s tough to resist/Cause I see danger, danger, danger in your eyes/Cause danger, danger, danger, you disguise/So, baby lift your head up to the light/There’s danger in those eyes”.
‘Gypsy Woman’ was written by Hilary and Haylie Duff, and OneRepublic’s lead singer Ryan Tedder. It’s a terrific pop song that is mesmerizing. It, like Proverbs, warns of a dangerous woman: “She can swallow knives, she can swallow lives/Gold and black stare/Brought the night of your demise.../She can rob you blind with just one look from those eyes/Out of all the thieves that trained her/None of them could tame her”. ‘Never Stop’ begins with these words of encouragement: “Sometimes you feel your world is breaking down/Baby, don’t stop/There’s trouble everywhere, it’s all around/Baby, don’t stop/Cause I’m here to turn the corner with you/And when we’re together, there’s nothing that we can’t do”.
‘No Work, All Play’ is a smooth flowing pop ballad that offers good advice: “Sometimes it’s hard looking at yourself/You’d rather place the blame than point it your own way/I still do hide from my feelings myself/But I’m trying hard these days not to procrastinate/And face my fate/Stay on my case.../You gotta know yourself to be yourself/It’s a struggle everyday”. ‘Between You and Me’ finds Hilary being upfront with a guy: “My love is not up for negotiation/’Hello’ doesn’t mean an open invitation/Don’t take it personally/Cause you and me, we’re wrong/So move on/Move on (2X)/Now, I’m not saying you’re not nice/Let me give you some advice/There’s a girl across the room who’d kill to be with you tonight”.
‘Dreamer’ is a pop/dance track directed at an obsessed fan it seems: “I’m at the grocery store and there you are just watchin’ me/Pick up my clothes from the cleaners and look who I see/I try to lose you in my car, but you won’t go away/Come on buddy/Don’t you think you’ve overstayed your stay?/Don’t you have better things to do with your life than hang around and stare at me and complicate mine?” The next song, ‘Happy’, is about a girl who has moved on: “I understand why you’re looking for tears in my eyes/Trust me, they were there but now the well has run dry/I was in so deep but couldn’t get out/I sat on feelings that I buried deep down/I knew there’d come a day when our paths would cross/And glad it’s today cause now I am strong/I’m happy and I can thank myself/If it were up to you I’d be in my bed crying”.
‘Burned’ has lyrics many of us who’ve been hurt before will relate to: “When somebody’s knockin’/When somebody wants me/When somebody’s trying to love me completely/I get scared/Don’t know how it works/Will somebody save me?/Or will I get burned?” Alecia Moore (Pink), Chantal Kreviazuk, and Raine Maida wrote ‘Outside of You’, a pop/rock song that pines for a guy: “I’m outside of you and I can’t get through/Overlooking the beauty that’s dying inside me/Can’t you see?/I’m outside of you and I’m so confused/You keep missing the small things/The safety that love brings/Can’t you see?/I’m outside of you”.
‘I Wish’ is a pop song that’s catchy and includes a great electric guitar solo. It’s also one of honesty: “You always hurt the people closest to ya/Guess I blamed you for everything wrong/And I don’t know why it’s so hard to tell ya/I guess that’s why I’m writing you this song!/Yeah/You wanna know why I look so sad and lonely/You wanna know why I can barely talk/Well, it’s not your fault, so let me say I’m sorry/For makin’ you the reason for my fall”. Last up, ironically, is the album’s lead single. ‘Play With Fire’ was written by Hilary, Kara DioGuardi, Rhett Lawrence, and will.i.am. This pop/dance number minces no words: “You never know just what you got till it’s gone/You freak out/But I’m not falling for that game/Boys like you never change/You made me feel I wasn’t enough, wasn’t enough/For your love/But it was insecurity that made you run/It wasn’t me/So, don’t you sit there trying to give me more excuses/I don’t have time for this/I’m off to play in Houston!”
Style-wise DIGNITY is a bubblegum pop/dance album that musically reminds me of Britney Spears, but with cleaner lyrics. It’d be a good album to work out to. Lyrically, the songs deal with a wide variety of topics. Hilary sings about relationship problems, gives men advice, speaks of dangerous women, and moving on when there’s no potential for a romantic relationship. Hilary warns against getting an inflated ego and people following celebrities too closely. She encourages introspection and self improvement. This album shows great growth from her previous efforts. Hilary was 19 when DIGNITY came out. I’m rating it 93%. For more info visit: www.hilaryduff.com.