Actress and singer Hilary Duff has kept a relatively low profile in recent years, especially when it comes to her music. Duff last released an album back in 2007 with fourth studio album Dignity. That record saw her ditch the cutesy pop/rock sound and turn her hand to a sexier pop effort. Now 8 years on Duff is back making music and has released the first album for her new label RCA.
Breathe In. Breathe Out has had a couple of false starts over the past few months. Duff made her music comeback with Chasing The Sun, written by Colbie Caillat, and followed it up with All About You. Neither track has made it onto the final tracklisting for the album and it seems that after the so-so success of them both, Duff decided to take her sound in a different direction. Current single Sparks, which features a whistle melody not dissimilar to Adam Lambert’s Ghost Town, moves away from the singer-songwriter acoustic feel of previous singles and embraces electro-pop. Honestly it’s a much better direction for Duff who is more a popstar than she is a vocalist.
On the whole Breathe In. Breathe Out is a pure pop record with Duff’s limited voice backed by clever production and catchy melodies. The set gets off to a strong start with Sparks followed by the hands-in-the-air beats of My Kind. These make way for the one-two punch of the urgent One in a Million and the anthem-in-the-making Confetti. One of the album’s most effective moments comes on Night Like This, a duet with Big Time Rush star Kendall Schmidt. The track has a gentle beat but the two star’s voices work well together.
Unfortunately it’s not all great pop. The flimsy Tattoo exposes Duff’s weak vocals too much. She doesn’t have anything in the way of vibrato and her range is fairly small. The track doesn’t play to her strengths like the other cutesy fun pop songs on the record. Brave Heart suffers from similar issues and is too vocally challenging a song for Duff.
Breathe In. Breathe Out is listenable pop with some strong moments. Duff doesn’t particularly have her own identity as a musician and she doesn’t have the vocals of someone like say Rihanna or Beyonce to make a lasting impression. Even the weaker singers on the pop market like Britney Spears, know how to use their voice and make it distinctive. Breathe In. Breathe Out is a decent enough effort but it’s not an album that will stand the test of time or become a classic.