Love and Theft – World Wide Open

 Love and Theft - World Wide Open

Written By: Jeff Markunas
(Americana/Country Editor)

Label: Carolwood – Rating:

They say that family bands make the best singers because siblings have genetic traits that make harmonizing natural; Love and Theft sounds like triplets separated at birth. Their harmonies soar and blend effortlessly like true musical brothers.

Stephen Barker Liles, Eric Gunderson and Brian Bandas swing easily from singing lead to three-part harmonies, and their songwriting skills are on a par with anyone currently working in Nashville.

If you like great country singing – think Brooks and Dunn with an extra brother – this band will completely impress and entertain you.

My bitch (you knew I had one) is that Love and Theft has three great singers, superbly presenting great vocal material, but are backed by a truly mediocre band.

Now let me define my term here – mediocre means completely average, neither good nor bad. The fact I can’t say anything negative or positive about the backing band speaks volumes about their performance.

My suspicion here is that the producer(s) took the “Glen Campbell” route. Glen is an excellent and creative guitarist, who played studio guitar for some of the greats, from the Beach Boys to Frank Sinatra. His solo career, however, is almost completely devoid of his playing – His producers wanted to sell him as a ‘personable pop singer’ (which he is) – not as a guitar hero.

The other end of the musical scale is Brooks and Dunn, whose band knows how to Rock Hard and Blow Sweet as necessary, while allowing the vocals complete freedom.

Now, since I don’t have any money riding on this band, I don’t have to care, but I think Love and theft are to coin a phrase – Too Good To Fail.

Free advice is, as Yogi might say, worth exactly what you pay for it, but…

Right now the World is ‘Wide Open.’ Stephen, Eric and Brian have already impressed jaded label execs and Kanye West’s favorite country singer, who hired them as her opening act.. I think that Love and Theft will impress listeners too. Great start guys!

Now the free advice – Don’t let the ‘professionals’ mold your musical sound any more than you would let them dictate your vocal harmonies… Hire a great band, work the kinks out on the road and storm into the studio like a conquering army to make your next album.

Rock Bottom Line:
Great singers in search of a great band. I would have enjoyed this album twice as much if the band had the verve and presence of the singers.

CWG Rating – 3 Guns


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