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Lee Brice

Hard to Love – 2012 (Curb)

Reviewed by Jeff Lincoln

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CDs by Lee Brice

Lee Brice had a dream run of success with his debut, "Love Like Crazy" - the title track became the most-played song on country radio in 2010. While that set the South Carolina native up for a doozy of a sophomore slump, he sidesteps it with ease. Brice simply has too many weapons - a songwriter's ear, soulful voice and some very able co-writer friends (Rhett Atkins, Eric Church) to veer far off course.

A Woman Like You has already topped the country single charts. Its soft strumming and sly lyrics run down how much fun a man would have (and what a mess he would be) without his lady. The song is emblematic of a key strength of Brice - he's deeply attuned to what makes both men and women giddy. For the boys, that involves a lot of carousing (Parking Lot Party, Beer, Life Off My Years). But the ladies get their due respect, too, whether it's peace of mind from engagement anxiety (Don't Believe Everything You Think) or the guy that comes home as fast as they can to see their family (See About a Girl, One More Day).

While no song has the tape measure home-run quality of Love Like Crazy from Brice's debut, the album is chockfull of doubles and triples. Special honorable mention goes to I Drive Your Truck, an electric power-ballad about the death of a brother. In the midst of all on "Hard 2 Love" that brings a smile, Brice reserved just a few moments for a couple of tears.