A little over a year of the 2007 release of her fourth album Dignity, Hilary Duff took to TRL (#RIP) to let all of her adoring fans that she would be working on a new album soon. Well we’ve definitely waited a good long while for her to release said album, and I’ve got to say that Breathe In. Breathe Out. is by far one of the better comebacks for ex-child starlets.
Duff made it clear from its first and second released happy-go-lucky, indie influenced singles “Chasing The Sun” and “All About You” that she wasn’t going to half-ass her first album in almost a decade. When the album’s utterly infectious and, dare I say, sexy Tove Lo penned lead single “Sparks” came about, it was obvious that Breathe In. Breathe Out. was going to be tailored for the age of her longtime fans while still keeping that radio friendly appeal that she started her career.
Duff has strong power anthems like the retro dance-pop “One In A Million”, where she realizes that she deserves so much better than the -ish she’s going through with her man, and the album’s “I’m-gonna-survive-my-heartbreak” title track. She also shows off her vulnerable side, which she never really did back in the day, in “Arms Around A Memory”, and especially in the stripped down “Tattoo”. I personally think that “Lies” is one of her better tracks purely because she’s got that familiar angst that we’ve continually seen throughout her work over the years.
While I understand why she wanted to veer towards the dance-pop-y direction for this album, but her first two singles as well as “Brave Heart” and “Picture This” have that charming indie-esque quality that’s so different than what she had put out in the past (and suits her vocals a little better). In ending track “Night Like This”, Duff duets with ex-Big Time Rush-er Kendall Schmidt in a narrative and perfectly harmonized song about gearing up for that big date with someone new.
While Duff is no longer that wide-eyed teen queen we fell in love with back in the early 2000’s, this album beautifully shows her artistic growth not only in terms of thematic elements, but also in how she weaved personal experiences into each track with such ease. It was already apparent that she would go in a more dance/pop direction when she released Dignity, so I’m not entirely surprised with the final product. The only thing that I wish that she did differently was to include her comeback singles “Chasing The Sun” and “All About You” on the standard version of the album instead of on its Fanjoy Edition (not even the Deluxe Edition). Breathe In. Breathe Out. will forever be the album that put Hilary Duff back in the public’s eye and it was certainly well-worth the LONG wait.