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Love and Theft

Whiskey on My Breath – 2015 (Hate & Purchase)

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

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CDs by Love and Theft

Going the indie route generally is viewed as entrepreneurial. For Love and Theft's Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson, it was a necessity. The duo is proof that the chart summit is not all it's cracked up to be. After hitting number 1 with 2012's "Angel Eyes," they were dropped by RCA Nashville last year when their follow up singles flopped.

With their final album for the label shelved and unable to legally recut the tracks they had recorded, "Whiskey On My Breath" is a collection from the on deck circle. All 11 tracks were written or co-written by Liles and Gunderson with their songwriting partners Eric Paslay, Trent Tomlinson and Tyler Reeve.

The brief 36-minute collection is about as boilerplate as contemporary country gets. Save for a cover of Martina McBride's "Wrong Baby Wrong," every track involves alcohol in a feature or supporting role. Whether trying to sober up before meeting Jesus on the title track or chasing pretty girls with "Tan Lines," the vapidity never ceases. Originally conceived as an all-acoustic effort, they opted to make a more "full bodied - but less slick - studio album." Sonically, they stay in their catchy pop wheelhouse with skillful harmonies and catchy melodies.

Liles exclaimed, "We still have a lot to say." It's a good thing because going from a major-label CMA and ACM-nominated duo that toured with Tim McGraw and played LP Field at CMA Music Festival to an indie act that has been forced to get creative in how it delivers its music to fans takes some explaining.