Love and Theft Sends Mixed Signals
- Thursday, August 02, 2012
Artist: Love and Theft
Title: Love and Theft
Label: RCA Records
Like the opposing words in the duo's name, new country act Love and Theft, which toured with Taylor Swift and even inspired her to write the song "Stephen," gives mixed thematic signals on its stylistically well-crafted self-titled second album.
Good-looking singers Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson thank Jesus first in the liner notes, but they're pleased by the atypical preacher's daughter with a little bit of devil in Tom Petty-flavored opener "Angel Eyes." That's followed by catchy roadhouse rocker, "Inside Out," where the guy hopes the girl with a Jesus fish there on your wrist will take a drive with him and maybe think about turning those blue jeans inside out.
The testosterone levels are still there on the slow and easy "Amen," but seemingly in the context of marriage as a husband makes the case to his wife for staying home from worship (I know we shouldn't miss church / but one Sunday won't hurt) to have a different kind of spiritual experience. It's a clever combination of romance and religion.
Beyond those curiously frontloaded nods to faith, Love and Theft is your basic pop-leaning modern country record. There's Keith Urban-like crossover potential in "Runnin' Out of Air," and the pining mid-tempo ballad "If You Every Get Lonely" was co-written by 1980s rock star John Waite ("Missing You").
Fiddles and mandolin bring a fun back roads vibe to the feel-good "Real Good Sign," a co-write with hit maker Rivers Rutherford (Kenny Chesney, Brooks & Dunn). And there's a sweet love story worth hearing in the alt-country standout "Town Drunk."
Fans of the genre will love the formulaic festivities of party jam "Girls Love to Shake It" (a song Love and Theft seems a little too polished to pull off). Similar-minded closer "Girls Look Hot in Trucks" fares better with some inspired lyrical nods to classic country (Is your favorite George Strait or Jones?) and an arrangement that favors Brad Paisley.
Driven by rich harmonies and strong hooks, Love and Theft certainly earns a place in the playlists of fans who enjoy Swift and Rascal Flatts. If that's you, steal a moment to listen.
*This Review First Published 8/2/2012
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