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Love And Theft        

Country Music Duo Composed of Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson

Love and Theft may be celebrating the release of their second studio album, but to the ACM-nominated country duo, the self-titled release might as well be their first.

And in a way, it is. "Love and Theft" is Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson’s first album since joining RCA Nashville, the home to many of their musical inspirations.

That excitement is palpable throughout the 11 songs that comprise the album, a fluid mix of country melodies and sing-along choruses, all driven by Eric’s earthy voice and Stephen’s high-altitude tenor. The guys share lead vocals, harmonize like a church choir, and bolster their songs with their own guitar playing. “We sound like brothers when we sing,” says Eric. “Stephen and I have always been on the same page as far as the vision for the band, and we feel like we have made the record we’ve always wanted to make.”

Produced by Josh Leo (Alabama, Nitty Gritty Dirty Band), "Love and Theft" is a nod to the duo’s varied influences. “She’s Amazing” evokes the brilliant harmonies of the Eagles. The seductive “Amen” channels all the yearning of Roy Orbison. And the rollicking first single “Angel Eyes” -- which scored the twosome their first CMT Music Awards nomination for Duo Video of the Year -- brings to mind Elvis Presley’s “(You’re the) Devil in Disguise.”

Coincidentally, both Stephen and Eric -- who didn’t meet until they were in their early 20s -- were practically raised in church. Stephen’s father is a pastor and Eric’s father is a worship pastor. Their respective fathers fed them a steady diet of gospel, oldies and country. “Our parents didn’t want us listening to secular music that much. But they’d let us listen to Elvis, Roy, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. It was cool to grow up that way, and that’s still my favorite kind of music,” explains Eric, who says he and Stephen worked hard to capture a more organic, country sound for this album. “We’re both from the South and we’re very much in favor of embracing our country roots. I feel like we’ve done that here.”

Love and Theft certainly have a knack for crafting sharp hooks. Whether they’re writing for themselves or for other artists, Stephen and Eric are well-versed in the ingredients necessary for a hit.

“We want to cut the best songs we can find, but we also love to write too. Sometimes, though, those songs don’t fit our music and may be better suited for someone like Martina McBride,” says Stephen, who co-wrote her hit “Wrong Baby Wrong.”

Proud of their writing credits, and rightfully so, Stephen and Eric are also reinvigorated by the recording process they established with Josh Leo. Every track on "Love and Theft" was cut live in the studio, with a full band falling into a solid groove. “We love performing” Stephen says. “The way we are recording now is the way our influences made records: live with a band.”

With a renewed emphasis on organic sounds, the album has brought Love and Theft closer to what it set out to be: a band that writes, records and performs honest, soulful country music.

“This record represents the way we sound live,” says Stephen, before -- like the musical brothers they are -- Eric completes the thought. “It shows a more mature, evolved Love and Theft but the core is still the same,” he says. “Our sound will always be driven by harmonies.”

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