Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate uncertain is the 2007 4th album Dignity by American actress, singer, and songwriter, Hilary Duff. Will this album be a respectable find, or is it a total duff? Read on…
This 14 track CD throws us into third and final single Stranger, which opens with some wonderful middle-eastern sounding wafting guitars over a percussive beat that sounds like it’s been borrowed from One Republic or Timbaland. Hilary’s vocals are rich and warm, and channeling what reminds me of Britney Spears. The track also gives Hilary the first of her writing credits (she co-wrote all but one track here), and it’s a nice catchy track. We’re off to a good start.
That’s followed by title track Dignity. The pace continues to race along, aided by some well placed chugging guitars and synths. Your foot will definitely be tapping to this track, particularly the ‘money makes the world go round’ part. This is a great slice of rockier pop.
Second single With Love is next, opening with some wonderful sounding bleeping synths. Hilary’s vocals sit in command perfectly tugging the leash of the guitar. Her voice is flawless, delicate and rich, and a delight to listen to, and this is given plenty of space to shine in this slower lighter track. The guitar gets some glory in the mid-section, but this wasn’t enough to tempt the UK public, and it stalled at #29.
Danger follows this and Hilary’s vocals are sultry, teasing, and rich here at the intro, leading us into a playful song that reminds me a bit of something you could expect to find on a Rachel Stevens album. This is a really nice song, and her vocals really do shine here. I think that it could have worked well as single, perhaps more catchy than previous track With Love.
A sample about the ‘battle with France’ opens next song Gypsy Woman. There’s also some other wonderful vocal samples here too, which along with a simple beat and synth, bounce around Hilary’s vocals. Again, we’re sounding like something that would go on to appear on Britney’s Circus album, proving that Hilary was on the money, but didn’t gain the same recognition. This is clearly a song reflecting on her ex’s new relationship.
That’s followed by a somewhat awkward Never Stop. Whilst the bubbling synths hint towards a disco track, the first verse introduces you to a difficultly abrupt time signature that keeps moving around. It’s mostly nice enough to listen to but that time signature break makes it disorientating. Lyrically, we’re back to reflection of her former relationship.
Vinyl crackle leads us into next song No Work, All Play. A wonderful clanging beat leads us through to verse one. Hilary’s vocals effortlessly wander through to the chorus as a bass guitar sneaks in. This is a nice relaxed song, and sits somewhat in contrast to the faster or reflective sounds we’ve heard so far. At times, it reminds me of some of the chilled songs found on Deee-Lite’s Dewdrops In The Garden 1994 album.
Between You And Me is next, and the tempo swiftly picks up. Some fun bleeping synths tease us during what is essentially a guitar strum-fest. It’s a simple song, and it works really well. Hilary’s vocals don’t really seem to have to stretch themselves much, but that simply allows her to show off her warmth in the vocal harmonies of the chorus.
Dreamer follows this, opening with a load of ‘bum bum bum bum‘ vocals which reminds me of an 80’s anthem that I just can’t put my finger on. The lyrics give us an insight into the everyday routine of Hilary Duff, which includes picking up her dry cleaning as the song bounces along – but the song is about her being watched – likely a reference to the stalkers that followed her in 2006. Again, it’s a simple song, giving way to Hilary’s vocals and harmonies as synths and guitars scurry along behind.
Then it’s Happy, and we’re given reassurance that Hilary is ‘finally getting over you’ in this song. There’s power and anger here, but mostly defiance that roars along with the electric guitar that gives this song a harder rock sound.
Next is Burned, and this has a wonderfully sinister sounding melody, which Hilary sings to perfectly. It’s like something from a Bond movie meets horror theme, which sounds great with the stringed instruments, but the song sounds a little empty in the verses and a bit weak when it’s just her vocals.
Outside Of You follows this, and this is a belter. The guitars and stadium rock drums are out in full force, as Hilary’s vocals duel them perfectly – fluttering from soft verse vocals alongside a sympathetic synth, to roaring chorus vocals against the guitars. This is the only track here not written by Hilary, and is in fact co-written by P!nk, which explains the harder feeling.
Next up is a funky sounding I Wish. Again, the guitars are there providing a catchy riff. The tempo is definitely lower here, giving us a rich and warm set of vocals from Hilary, and a bass guitar hops in to just keep everything together. The guitar gets a solo from about the 2:20 mark,
Play With Fire is the final track, opening with gurgling synths that make you think that Erasure are lurking in the wings. They’re not, but it’s nice to hear Hilary pitched against these. The song starts off simply in the first verse before letting rip for the chorus… eventually abandoning you wanting more. It’s a great end to the album.
Over all, this album is a kind of a hip-hop meets rock meets Britney meets Rachel Stevens blend. Whilst there are some great tracks here (Stranger, Danger, No Work All Play, and Dignity), there are also some mundane ones too.
The album begins well, but the low point track Never Stop really unsettled it. The second half is weaker, although there are some nice moments vocally and musically. Things begin to pick up at Burned, leading to a great Outside Of You, and closing with Playing With Fire, that feels like the bookend with lead track Stronger.
It’s a nice album, but trying to be hip hop, rock, and sitting in the shadows of Britney and Rachel Stevens, is not quite as comfortable as it should be. It could easily have been a stronger 11 or 12 track album.
- POP RESCUE 2021 RATING: 3 / 5
- 2007 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #25
- POP RESCUE COST: £2.25 from an eBay seller.