Music Monday: Hilary Duff – “Breathe In. Breathe Out.”

After 8 long years of waiting for a follow-up to her last studio album, Dignity, Hilary Duff fans everywhere are rejoicing the recent release of her long anticipated record, Breathe In. Breathe Out. Following almost two years of Instagram posts in the recording studio, leaked potential song titles for the then-upcoming album, and entire songs released by Hilary herself, fans are doing anything but Breathing In and Breathing Out (see what I did there).

On January 2012, Hilary Duff took to Instagram to announce that she was taking trips to the studio in an attempt to get herself into the rhythm of making music again after being away from the scene for almost 5 years, with the intention of getting back into the music business immediately following the birth of her son. However, just as it always does, life got in the way of these plans, and Hilary rightfully decided that motherhood would have to be her first priority, and thus the waiting game for new music restarted. The past few years have been long, but the end result of the new album was definitely worth the wait.

Sonically, Breathe In. Breathe Out. is your typical pop album, but with a few more dimensions made up of catchy melodies, impressive vocal techniques, and perfectly done production. What this pop album has that not very many out there do is the depth and emotions portrayed through the lyrics of each song. Although Duff was not as involved in the writing process of this record as she had been in the past, it’s not hard to tell that the songs that she chose to put on the album truly resonated with her and provide an honest recount of her experiences over the past few years.

Beyond the release of “Sparks,” Hilary quickly diverts her attention away from the cookie-cutter provocative pop genre and more into lyrically-driven anthems that convey vulnerability, strength, and empowerment all at the same time. A track called “One In A Million” explores a relationship where one person doesn’t appreciate the other for all that he or she has to offer. The voice behind the song realizes that it shouldn’t matter what the other person thinks. This song is an anthem about self acceptance and taking on the mindset of “So what if I don’t fit your expectations – there’s no one else out there like me.” The title track, “Breathe In. Breathe Out.” takes place at the tail end of a relationship, where the heartbreak is fresh and very much real. The pop ballad acknowledges that hurt comes hand in hand with heartbreak, but that doesn’t mean that drowning in tears should be the only way to go through it. The song lets the person feel, and it conveys optimism and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel – “And when I’m cold at night, I know that I’ll survive. Until I feel alright, I’m gonna fake it. Breathe In. Breathe Out.” Fans everywhere were very pleased to see that the long-anticipated and highly publicized collaboration with Ed Sheeran, “Tattoo,” made the final track listing and upon first listen, the song rightfully earned its place alongside the other definite knockouts on the album. “Tattoo” talks about a pivotal relationship that left such an impression on a person’s life that they walk around with the residue of the relationship on their skin, almost like a tattoo – “You’re under my skin, running through my bloodstream. These scars are the way that you loved me. I guess you had to leave a tattoo to remind me.” Finally, Duff ends the entire record lightheartedly with a duet with Kendall Schmidt, best known for his role on Big Time Rush and current member of pop duo, Heffron Drive. “Night Like This” is a song about two people who unexpectedly connect when they share a cab on a Friday night. The song is playful, elegant, and paints a vivid picture of a spontaneous, unexpected, yet perfect and romantic evening with a stranger.

Hilary Duff more than delivers on this album, and shows a certain level of maturity through her lyrics and in each song’s production. After more than ten years in the music industry, Breathe In. Breathe Out. shows that although she may not have the perfect life, it was through her experiences that she has finally found her voice. The ultimate message behind the album is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re going through a tough time with a breakup or just discovering something new within a relationship. Being happy and content means taking it all in, and absorbing your experiences step by step, breath by breath.

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