On the cover of his 2010 debut, Love Like Crazy, Lee Brice looked a little bit like an everyday bro in his T-shirt and backwards baseball cap but on its 2012 sequel, Hard 2 Love, he cuts a slightly more sophisticated figure in a newsboy cap and pea jacket. As it turns out, the sartorial shift is a visualization of the change in his sound. Despite some generic titles -- the best of which is "Beer" -- Brice doesn't play things quite by the books, expanding both his emotional and sonic horizons on Hard 2 Love, threading some echoing U2 guitar into "That's When You Know It's Over," letting his sensitive side take over when he's regarding either his girl or his friends. Brice covers an Eric Church song called "Life Off My Years" and throughout the album he displays a certain debt to the highly regarded Church, building upon his savvy wordplay, humor, and relaxed masculinity. But Brice is a smoother, poppier singer than Church, comfortable with the glossy setting of Hard 2 Love but also giving it some considerable warmth. Perhaps the album could use a song that grabbed you by the throat but it's sturdy and quietly persuasive, its strengths sounding clearer and bolder with each listen.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine