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Review: Lady Antebellum

BY REBECCA KOONS | JANUARY 26, 2010 7:30 AM

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Lady Antebellum: Need You Now
**** out of *****

Crossover appeal has become a key factor in the success of numerous country acts in the last decade. Finding the perfect blend of country’s heart, pop’s vocal sensibility, and rock’s soaring guitar riffs has sealed the deal for some of country’s biggest acts, and Lady Antebellum is the latest group to follow suit with its sophomore release, Need You Now.

Lady Antebellum has only been in the public eye for a few years, but the trio from Augusta, Ga., is making serious headway in the fame department. The group’s platinum-selling début album, released in 2008, launched it onto the big stage.

Opening on a somber note, the album’s title track talks of life after love and how it may not be as easy to let go as it seems. “Need You Now” is the first single off the album, and it has peaked at No. 1 on country-radio charts. If there’s one thing Lady Antebellum knows how to do, it’s to make its songs approachable and relatable, both musically and lyrically.

“Need You Now” is a tender song about a sore subject, and it is treated as such with soothing vocals and delicate piano. This heartfelt approach is felt throughout the album, in other tracks including “Hello World” and “If I Knew Then.”

On the first listen, Need You Now comes off as rather ballad-heavy, which may deter those in need of a more happy-go-lucky disc. Fortunately, however, the album does have a few moments of levity, which more than make up for its fairly emotional backdrop.

No contemporary country album would be complete without a couple country-rock tracks to boot, and Lady Antebellum surely delivers on this front, if not in quantity, then quality. “Perfect Day,” “Love This Pain,” and “Stars Tonight” are all songs worthy of rolling down the car windows and merrily drumming on the steering wheel, and they change the album’s attitude from sentimental to bold at the drop of a dime.

“American Honey” presents a much more traditional country feel to an otherwise contemporary collection. This track has “small-town U.S.A.” written all over it, and if this doesn’t inspire images of warm summer days and wide-open spaces, nothing else will.

Most of the songs on Need You Now display the group’s great penchant for tight vocal harmony, set atop lush instrumentation. While the vocals are not weak by any means, they are not always particularly memorable, especially when solo. There’s not much, if anything in the way of diva-like belting or country star crooning, yet there has been progress from the first album that shows in the more mature vocals of this album.

Lady Antebellum knows what it’s doing, which is clear from its continued success. The group has what it takes to produce a hit, as evidenced by its heartfelt songwriting and solid musicality. If Need You Now is any indication, the group won’t fade away any time soon.

Rebecca’s Picks: “Need You Now,” “American Honey,” “When You Got A Good Thing”


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