Ever since he was rescued from CD Baby obscurity by an MTV producer who put "Better with You" on the series Laguna Beach, Brad Skistimas (aka Five Times August) has been a D.I.Y. poster boy, self-releasing his music and self-booking his lengthy concert tours. But what the stories about his beneath-the-radar hustle don't go into are the music itself and why it appeals so much to TV shows. Skistimas is really just a new version of an old-fashioned sensitive singer/songwriter, strumming his acoustic guitar over folk-rock arrangements and singing earnestly in a throaty tenor songs of romantic involvement that emphasize intimacy and encouragement with titles like "Giving It All to You" and "The Good Life" from his second album, Brighter Side. It's no wonder that TV execs for channels like Oxygen and Lifetime that are targeted toward a young adult female demographic hear good mood music in his material. "You might feel as dark as coal," Skistimas sings in "Giving It All to You," "but when you burn you heat my soul." This is typical of the heart-on-sleeve sentiments found in songs that are always catchy and engaging, always focused on love and self-esteem. It's the perfect soundtrack for the soap-opera dramas on which it reaches its greatest exposure.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann