It’s been eight years, two months, four weeks and one day since Hilary Duff released her 2007 hit album ‘Dignity’ (not that I’ve been counting). Eight years is a long time between drinks, but boy has Hilary made up for it. ‘Breathe In. Breathe Out.’ is the product of a seven year break from the music scene, since Duff wrapped up her 07/08 Dignity world tour right here in Australia. During that time she starred in films such as War Inc., What Goes Up and Greta, wrote a Trilogy book series, starred in Darren Starr’s hit TV Land series Younger, got married and started a family. Once again, it is now time for Hilary to dominate the charts! ‘Breathe In. Breathe Out.’ had reached number 1 in numerous countries before its release in Australia. However, in eight short hours it has reached number one on the Australian iTunes Charts.
The album went through a metamorphosis, starting out with a folkier vibe exhibited in the singles, ‘Chasing The Sun’ and ‘All About You,’ but between then and now, Hilary has been working hard to produce a pop record that will dominate the charts and see her reclaim her throne as a Queen of Pop. Discussing the change of direction the record faced, Hilary stated to Official Charts, “It felt like a good direction to take the album from where music is right now and for what I wanted to sound like. It takes a minute to work that out, but I feel like I’ve discovered what sort of artist I am again. It still sounds like me tonally, but the content has changed.”
The album opens with its lead single ‘Sparks,’ a collaboration with Swedish singer, Tove Lo. The electro-pop tune sets the tone for the album: upbeat, fun and sexy. It’s hard to get the whistle riff out of your head after listening to the track. Nostalgia sets in by the time, ‘My Kind’ plays its first beat. It’s hard to not have a grin from ear to ear while listening to this track. The beat, the lyrics, the melody just gets under your skin. Hilary has managed to bring the music we have always loved into a 2015 atmosphere. The anthemic chorus will have fans all around the world singing from the top of their lungs, after all they’re one of Hilary’s kind. ‘One In A Million’ is just that. The song is about not fighting the love and lust, but letting them know, you’re one in a million.
Hilary released the chorus of ‘Confetti’ a week early through the app Dubsmash, so I’ve had it stuck in my head for days! The production on the track has us feeling like it could give hits by super DJ’s David Guetta and Zedd a run for their money. This could be the case as Matthew Koma, a previous collaborator of Zedd’s, wrote the track. The super catchy pop track has us dancing around the office. Then Hilary throws a spanner in the works and takes us straight back to 1987 by sampling Belinda Carlisle’s mega hit (and my personal favorite) ‘Heaven Is A Place On Earth’. Where the confetti canons at?
Next up is the title track ‘Breathe In. Breathe Out.’. The track is about remembering moments of a great love that have come to an end. Hilary had stated tracks on the album were inspired about all aspects of her life during the past eight years, including her divorce from Canadian Hockey player, Mike Comrie. The personal lyrics are something people all over the world can relate to. “Until I feel alright I’m gonna fake it, Breathe In. Breathe Out.” I love the drums in this track too, fitting with the way Duff sings. ‘Lies’ closely follows the theme of the previous track. “We’re falling, we’re falling apart like a house of cards. I know in my heart, I know in my heart, this has gone too far. I’m done with your lies.” This track is more about betrayal and being done with the relationship and lies. There’s a very European feel behind this song, the melodies and the way the song builds.
‘Arms Around A Memory’ and ‘Stay In Love’ follow the top-notch production noticeable throughout the whole album. Diehard fans will remember back a few months to when Hilary shared a preview of ‘Stay In Love’ on Instagram. Although the theme and vibe of the tracks aren’t as cheerful, or light as that of ‘My Kind’ or ‘Confetti’, it’s still hard not to dance around the room letting Hilary’s flawless vocals take over.
‘Brave Heart’ is about letting go, moving on taking a chance even though you may be scared and having a Brave Heart will get you through. Brave Heart is one of the few tracks Hilary mentioned while promoting ‘All About You,’ that made the final version of the album. While promoting the album this week, Hilary told Official Charts, “The record started out folkier with a more singer-songwriter feel. There are still a few songs on the record with that sound … I think it’s okay to have that mix on there, but I really wanted some of those super strong pop songs that Sweden really seems to have their finger on right now”.
There’s a lot of hype around ‘Tattoo.’ The track was written by U.K. superstar Ed Sheeran and was one of the songs Hilary always knew would make the album (fun fact, Hilary knocked Ed from the top spot on iTunes with this new record). The acoustic track definitely has Ed’s signature style. The song is about someone who has moved on and left an imprint, a scar, a tattoo. This is one of my favorite tracks from the record and definitely some of Ed’s best work. ‘Picture This’ is almost a mix between ‘Sparks’ and ‘All About You’ Its got the electro-pop element with a whistle riff but also has the folk led drive ‘All About You’ presented.
‘Night Like This’ features a familiar voice, Kendall Schmidt of Heffron Drive and previously Big Time Rush. The track is very laid back and sweet, reminiscent of ‘Good Time’ by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen. The track also marks Hilary’s first duet featured on an album. The deluxe edition of the album (the only edition available in Australia) features two bonus tracks. When asked about the tracks that didn’t make the final cut Hilary said, “A couple are still on the album and the other ones I really loved are bonus tracks”.
‘Belong’ is the first of the bonus tracks. Hilary said it wasn’t a perfect fit for the main record, but the song is one of her favorites. The track has an old Western film vibe especially in the first verse, and recalls on that folkier sound Hilary explored through the creation of the record. The song is very catchy with a feel good vibe. Hearing the lyrics “When was the last time you did something for the first time, when was the first time you did something for the last time,” definitely had me thinking about all the things I want to do, and all the things I want to leave behind. I think the main thing this song instigates is to give you the drive to do so. I definitely want to make it all happen. The final track ‘Rebel Hearts’ could very well become the theme song for Duffsters all around the world. The track is about not apologising for the qualities that make you special and about fighting for your dreams. Hilary uses her lower register creating a sultry vibe that pulls the listener in. The anthemic and folk quality of the track is a perfect way to end the album we’ve been waiting eight years for.
For any fans disappointed Hilary’s single, ‘Chasing The Sun’ and ‘All About You’, are missing from the album, they are available as exclusive tracks through the Fanjoy ‘Breathe In. Breathe Out.’ boxset, which also features a Dave Audé, remix of ‘Chasing The Sun’ and ‘Outlaw’. The boxset also comes with an exclusive ‘Breathe In. Breathe Out.’ T-Shirt, a Hilary Duff custom tattoo set, a handmade bracelet from 31 Bits, 9 photo strips of Hilary by Social Print Studios, Hilary’s favorite lip balm from EOS and a personal letter from Hilary herself!
All in all, this is the record we have been waiting for. Whether you’re a Hilary Duff fan or not (ok, let’s be honest, who isn’t?), this record is what the music industry needed. A light, fun, sexy, vocally flawless, top quality production, amazing pop record. Hilary has made the past long eight years worth the wait!
Review by Vasili Papathanasopoulos
Photo source: Hilary Duff Facebook