“We wanted to show a different side and make a record that sounds like us,” Stephen Barker Liles says of Love and Theft’s boundary-pushing new album Whiskey On My Breath. “Country music has always been about honest performances and songs that mean something, and that’s the kind of record that we wanted to make.”
“We’re at a different place, in our music and in our lives, than we were when we made our earlier records, and we wanted this album to reflect that,” agrees his longstanding musical partner Eric Gunderson. “We worked harder and more passionately on this record than anything we’ve ever done. The whole experience was refreshing and inspiring for us.”
Whiskey On My Breath—the duo’s third album—marks a significant creative statement for the two singer-songwriter-guitarists, whose resume already includes a long series of career highlights. Having already established themselves as one of country’s hottest young acts with such memorable hits as the #1 country smash “Angel Eyes” and the Top 10 hit “Runaway,” and their widely acclaimed albums World Wide Open and Love and Theft, the ACM/CMA/CMT-nominated twosome take their music to the next level on Whiskey On My Breath.
The new collection finds the pair stripping their sound down to its essence, with spare, largely acoustic arrangements that focus squarely on their impassioned performances and distinctive vocal chemistry. With Liles and Gunderson co-producing with longtime studio collaborator Josh Leo (known for his work with the likes of Alabama, Restless Heart and Lynyrd Skynyrd), Whiskey On My Breath showcases the emotional honesty of such self-penned new tunes as the introspective title track and the pointedly personal “Everybody Drives Drunk,” along with such lighter-hearted new originals as “Easy,” and “Anytime, Anywhere,” which show Love and Theft’s playful sense of humor to be fully intact. Other highlights include “Get Drunk and Make Friends,” which the artists describe as the most honky-tonk song of their career, and “Wrong Baby Wrong,” a barbed Liles cowrite originally recorded in 2009 by Martina McBride and now reworked in fine style by its co-author.
Although it’s a departure in many respects, Whiskey On My Breath won’t come as that much of a surprise to Love and Theft’s longtime fans, who’ll recognize the commitment to high-energy performances and emotionally forthright songcraft that’s been the foundation of Love and Theft’s music from the start.
Originally a trio that also included fellow singer-songwriter Brian Bandas, Love and Theft first galvanized fans in 2009 with the Top 10 hit “Runaway.” That breakthrough success set the stage for their debut album World Wide Open, which also produced the hit single “Dancing In Circles.” After a move from the Disney-affiliated Carolwood label to RCA, Stephen and Eric scored their first #1 single with “Angel Eyes,” which was featured on Love and Theft’s self-titled second album, along with the hits “Runnin’ Out of Air” and “If You Ever Get Lonely.”