TORONTO - A tabloid fascination since before she could drive, Hilary Duff knew that releasing a breakup album months after her split from former NHLer Mike Comrie would have listeners connecting the autobiographical dots.
But after an eight-year break between albums, the 27-year-old Duff felt ready to both dance and disclose.
"I would say the record is very personal," she told The Canadian Press of the recently released "Breathe In. Breathe Out."
"The whole point of making a record is to open up and give a little piece of yourself away.
"Sometimes that's challenging to decide how much you want to share. But I'd say that most of the songs on the record, even if I didn't write them myself, they touched me personally."
True to its name, Duff's new collection shoots to set dancefloors gasping, with its upbeat pace standing in contrast to her reflections on a failing relationship.
Much of the record features lyrics about relationships either stuck, broken or over, while several other songs stand as empowerment anthems — including the Duff co-write "Brave Heart."
"That was kind of a tough one to share," she said of the song.
"Obviously it's about my relationship and deciding to move on to something that's unknown and scary, and being brave enough to do it.
"(It's about) kind of tying a bow around the memories you made with someone and being grateful, and deciding to move forward."
Its lessons could be tidily tied not only to Duff's personal life, but her career.
With 2007's "Dignity," she wrapped a run of four albums in four and a half years (not including the needlessly thorough release of two different greatest hits collections).
All those studio albums went at least gold — with 2003's "Metamorphosis" boasting particularly robust triple platinum sales — but Duff decided to step away from her music career temporarily while also slowing things considerably on the acting front.
During her hiatus from the studio, Duff married Comrie, gave birth to her son, Luca, co-wrote a trio of novels and limited her screen appearances mostly to cameos (including stints on "Community," "Raising Hope" and "Two and a Half Men").
She and Comrie made their divorce public earlier this year.
Just as she's now restarted the engine on her music career, Duff has also found a hit onscreen with TV Land's "Younger," recently renewed for a second season.
It's validating, since returning to the industry after such a long layoff wasn't necessarily easy.
"I think overall it's taken a lot of courage to attempt to get back into the music industry and make a record and to still be relevant — and to put such a big piece of yourself out there to analyze," she said.
She notes that once she wraps publicity duties for the record — which are "a lot more intense" these days with the proliferation of press, she notes — she'll be heading to Canada, her "second home."
Her records have always sold more proportionally here than in the U.S., something she chalks up to the determination with which she's toured the country. (She also points out that Comrie's family lives here, and "we love spending time with them.")
As far as a larger-scale tour, Duff is intrigued but says that, like seemingly everything else lately, "it would be different than how I did it before."
"I love the idea," she said. "I do have Luca and he's in school. Every decision I make is based around him, and trying to create a sense of normalcy in his life.
"But I definitely want to tour again."
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