This is one of Anie’s album reviews. I’ve limited myself to one sentence per song. Mostly.

Who Should Buy This: Fans of southern rock, gospel and blues enthusiasts, guitarists, and people who like larger-than-life dancey music without the pop.
Album: H A R D L O V E
Genre: blues, folk, rock
Music Rating: 9/10
Lyrics Rating: 8/10
Sounds Like: The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, Switchfoot
One Sentence Summary: This album spans a wide range of the human experience, celebrating life, love, loss, exploring the purpose in challenges and what it takes to find happiness. (Also it’s inhumanely catchy).
Best thing About this Album: The musical energy just infuses life into my veins and fills my heart with joy. Mad love.
One thing I wish was different: Get rid of the intro track. It’s just painful and unnecessary. It’s trying so hard to be “different”, I’m worried it’ll sprain something. (Okay, that may have been a tad harsh. I have strong feelings about this.)

Tracks: 11.3
*Singles: 5
square logo Favorites: 6
This is a playlist of all of the songs from the album that will automatically play through the whole album. To skip to a particular song, click on the menu icon in the upper left-hand corner.

Music: —
Lyrics: —
What? . . . I just . . . nope.
Can’t not talk about: Can we not? I have never been a fan of intro tracks. I understand their ideal. I just don’t think the application ever goes over well. This one is particularly . . . um . . . nope.

2. HARD LOVE*square logo
Music: 10
Lyrics: 9
With a fluid transition from the previous track, this song sets the tone with some folk-rock synth and hard-hitting truth of motivation and empowerment.
Can’t not talk about: Those tiny, baby background synths are giving me life! Yas!

3. MONEY & FAME*square logo – check out my thoughts on this song!
Music: 10
Lyrics: 9
Some sick horn synths bring in a sassy, fiery groove with gospel-inspired backing vocals all in support of a message about what’s most important in life, lending advice and insight infused with the wisdom of hindsight.
Can’t not talk about: Honestly? Dead. Too much good. What the saxophone though? Those horns! I’m in love.

Music: 8
Lyrics: 4
Slowing down in an abruptness that is almost comedic, the sparsity of acoustic guitar provides a pointed spotlight on the gorgeous vocals and their accompanying harmonies in a heartbroken ballad that slowly builds up and gains power as the track progresses.
Can’t not talk about: Bassline on point!

5. WHEN I SING square logo
Music: 10
Lyrics: 7
In a tempo shift that may break your neck with auditory whiplash, we charge straight into a bouncy piano and some insanely hard rhythms with a ridiculously singable melody to accompany an unbelievably infectious celebration of music, life, and love.
Can’t not talk about: Brass wins all the things! (I’m talking high brass and low brass, people.) So catchy! Much love!

6. HAPPINESS*square logo
Music: 10
Lyrics: 9
Amazingness overload. Too much. Does not compute. I can’t.
Can’t not talk about: This is honestly just my favorite. I have no words. Well, maybe one: perfection.

7. GREAT NIGHT (feat. Shovels & Rope)*
Music: 8
Lyrics: 7
I have been to old western saloons. This song sounds like a party at one of them, but this one’s been partially modernized with a mechanical bull in the center and a dance floor for line dancing off to the side. It’s still old and creaky and full of character though (the saloon, not the song).
Can’t not talk about: What the rhythm on the muted guitar strings though!? I just . . . love. From the bottom of my guitar-playing heart: thank you for that. #character

8. BE HERE LONG square logo
Music: 9
Lyrics: 8
Speaking of emotional whiplash, this track is a gorgeous balladesque cry to the universe that will simultaneously break your heart and allow your soul to soar as the message of love and loss resonates in anthemic proportions.
Can’t not talk about: “I don’t want any relief, ’cause I don’t want to let you go right now.”<–This. When you’ve lost someone, the pain is more comforting than the thought of being okay without them.

Music: 7
Lyrics: 8
Jumping right in with an electric guitar that puts a metallic taste in your mouth, the bluesy southern rock is instantly apparent and continues to be a major component of this song’s identity as it builds and tells a tale about dropping baggage and returning home.
Can’t not talk about: Those low background vocals though!!!!!!!!!! (starts around 1:07)

10. LET’S STAY HOME TONIGHT (Parental Guidance: contains the phrase “don’t even have to put clothes on”)
Music: 7
Lyrics: 7
Again with the dramatic tonal shifts, this song slows down with some faintly fluttery arpeggiated fifths drifting in the background while the main chord progression and vocals take center stage in a musical parallel with the lyrical message to shut the world out and just be alone together.
Can’t not talk about: I love how the whole track is super ethereal and otherworldly until 2:50 when it switches to this super authentic, acoustic, twangy campfire guitar thing. That simple but pointed shift takes the song and conceptuality to a whole other level imho.

Music: 8
Lyrics: 8
This song is a comforting and catchy acoustic celebration of the place you go to find peace, the place you find purpose, wherever you go (physically or emotionally) to become rejuvenated and reinforced with life-giving energy.
Can’t not talk about: “Weightless we’ll dance like kids on the moon” and “There’s no denying beauty makes a sound”

12. CLEAR square logo
Music: 9
Lyrics: 9
With a piano introduction that is both unexpected and instantly familiar, the grounded floating through ethereality in both music and language is a type of beauty to soothe souls.
Can’t not talk about: Honestly, this song is one of my new favorite love songs. Its just amazing, and adorable, and grounding with interesting music. Honestly, it’s quite reminiscent of Kodaline to me (which is a very good thing in my opinion).

Conclusion: This is an amazing album, and even if it’s not typically your vibe, you should definitely at least give it a listen. Don’t think you’ll regret it.

square logo Denotes my favorites
* Denotes songs released as singles

Click here to read through NEEDTOBREATHE lyrics (including the songs from this album).

If you’re interested with the vinyl edition of this album, check out my vinyl review for thoughts and info specific to the vinyl format as well as a lot of extra album commentary.

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