Love and Theft, "World Wide Open"
Love and Theft's familiar sound is probably lost on the younger demographic the trio tends to attract, but that may play in the band's favor when it comes to appealing to country fans. The group's harmonies, which are always at the forefront, are reminiscent of The Eagles and Restless Heart-acts that the country core is quite familiar with. The vocal trading among Love and Theft members Brian Bandas, Eric Gunderson and Stephen Barker Liles is icing on the cake. Album highlights include the frantic first single, "Runaway," an '80s pop-leaning song that serves as a fine introduction, and "Dancing in Circles," a gorgeous waltz with an appealing Golden Rule message. "Me Without You," with its sparse instrumentation on the verses and strong harmonies on the chorus, reinforces the Eagles connection. Country music traditionalists may not find much to like, but Rascal Flatts and Taylor Swift have proved that fiddle and steel guitar aren't required for country success. --Ken Tucker