Despite its title, the music on Lee Brice’s latest CD isn’t hard to love at all. On his second effort, Brice creates an album with a mix of music that works well together. There are some rocking tunes; some light-hearted, silly stuff; and some nods and winks to love and a good woman. This hazard soup mix of songs could be a disaster, but whoever worked with Brice on putting this CD together did a bang-up job of making it all work well.
My favorite on the CD is the title track. “Hard to Love” has a smooth, rhythmic melody to it that makes it a great two-stepping song. I love the strings that are at the forefront of this tune. It puts the picture in my mind of gliding across the floor with a dance partner. And I love how the song speaks to all those things that make the person you’re with hard to love:
I am insensitive/
I have a tendency/
to pay more attention to the things that I need…/
…I am a short fuse/
I am wrecking ball…/
…you’re like a Sunday morning/
full of grace and full of Jesus/
I wish that I could be more like you
This is one song that anyone can identify with as we all have our own particular quirks and personality traits that “don’t make it easy” for our partners, but they love us “good” just the same.
My next favorite is “Beer” which could be a complimentary song to Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup.” If you thought that song was wacky in a good way, you’ll really enjoy Brice’s “Beer.” What’s I like most about the song is the juxtaposition of slow verses with a rockin’ chorus. Add to this the track “Parking Lot Party” and you’ve got yourself a trifecta of impromptu party music.
Out of all the songs, the most stellar one of them is “I Drive Your Truck.” This song is a lament of military loss. What I love about it is that the song is very vague about who’s been killed in action. When I first heard it, I thought it was specific to a wife and I thought this is amazing; a song about the loss of a partner in the military sung from a man’s point of view! We have many songs in country music and music in general about women waiting for their men or mourning their loss from war, but few sung by men. Most of the male military themed songs fall along the lines of courage, honor and sacrifice to one’s country. After being so in awe of Lee Brice’s authorship of such a item, I actually discovered that the song is about the loss of a family member; a brother. But that sentiment is expressed so subtly; just in the last few lyrics, that the song could be used just as well for opposite-sex or same-sex military partners and not lose its impact. The focus of the song here is on the very personal, tangible connections that you have to the person who is gone. A theme to which everyone can relate because we all have our mementos that remind us of those who are gone.
While every other tune on Hard 2 Love is good-to-amazing there is one song that doesn’t live up to its full potential; “Seven Days a Thousand Times.” This is mainly because it lives in the shadow of Kenny Chesney’s turn on this tune from his CD Hemingway’s Whiskey. Since Chesney is so identified with sea, surf and tan, you can just picture him more in the moments of this song about saying goodbye to a sea-side vacation love than you can Brice. It’s a little bit of a shame, since Brice is actually one of the authors of the song along with Billy Montana and Jon Stone.
The booklet that comes with CD is alright. There a few decent photos of Brice. I especially like the centerfold with Brice in the sun glasses and knit cap with a few of the lyrics of the title track as its background. This is something that someone put some thought into. I, also, like the first photo of him on the inside cover. He’s hatless and looking off to the right. This gives you a very good view of this handsome bear of a country singer. I am a little bit disappointed that the other photos have Brice in a Irish cap because there’s nobody who can quite rock the backwards ball cap look as Brice. We see that a little bit with the photo on the back of the CD case. It’s got Brice in his ball cap in the back of a rusty pickup truck. While it is typical of some other albums that I’ve seen, it’s still adding a little bit more visual interest than just the country artist standing and staring off to the side (or directly into the camera). This is what you get as the cover photo. Though Brice’s stand and stare is a little more interesting than others (you can see some background), it’s a concept that is used in just about every other album there is. What happened to creating album artwork? I know that we are living in a digital world, but some of those downloads come with a booklet as well. I love looking at a good looking country artist; male or female, as much as the next person, but I really love seeing something more creative; something that is art; something that rises above just showing you ‘this is the person who’s singing.’ I want something that compliments and accentuates the music; especially when that music is as good as what’s contained in this CD.