Review Summary: Lady Antebellum manage to bring nothing new to the country-pop table, but sound good enough to be entertaining.
Lady Antebellum is a band that very well may have been better known for its male vocalist, Charles Kelley, being related to Katherine Heigl than for their music. until their breakthrough smash "Need You Now" tore up the airwaves. I once heard the song five times in a two hour span and decided that if a song was that popular, and Scott sounds that much like Taylor Swift, it was time to get the album. I broke into the album slowly, as I do with all country albums I get, until I was able to get through the entire thing in one sitting. It was a rather long excursion, forty-five minutes, that didn't hold my attention the entire time, but I never really found myself wanting to rip out my headphones either.
The main reason for the loss of exuberance for the album is Charles Kelley. This man could win a Chad Kroeger impersonator contest after one verse. His voice is often pushed to its gravelly limit, especially on the title track and "Hello World". When it isn't, it's approaching Garth Brooks level twang on otherwise good songs like "Our Kind of Love" and "Love This Pain." Kelley's vocals infuriate me for the most part and would probably be better off learning an instrument (the only person in Lady A that plays an instrument is guitarist/pianist/mandolinist Dave Haywood, all other instruments are played by session musicians) and singing background vocals. When hearing songs where he has a prominent role, I often cringe when I hear his verse section approaching. Meanwhile, I'm not sure if Dave Haywood's amp is broken or if he's just whispering his slide guitar lines into a mic. They are occasionally less audible than the bass and, unlike in the Zac Brown Band, could be regarded as the least important instrument that the band has in its ensemble. Haywood and Kelley are pretty much liabilities on the album.
Hillary Scott, on the other hand, is a VERY bright spot on the album. Her voice, as previously mentioned, sounds a lot like Taylor Swift's, but with more range. Scott made the album for me. Songs that feature her exclusively, like "American Honey," are my favorites on the album and it's impossible to not smile at "Perfect Day." Scott sounds as if she is having a perfect day as she's singing the song. Her voice is smooth, bubbly, and a bushel of other nice sounding adjectives. If I were her, I would test the waters of a solo career. She stands head and shoulders above her band mates and keeps Need You Now from the depths of the recycle bin.
As far as the songs go, there are many bright spots, and the lyrics are passable. However, the last two songs, which should be among the strongest on the album, are just one discordant hunk of a song. Perhaps I had just lost my attention, but iTunes tells me I've heard each song 5 times and I don't remember a note of either of them. These last two songs were big disappointments for me.
Overall, Need You Now never tries taking itself too seriously, and is often fun to listen to. Scott carries the album on her shoulders and makes it better than the fetid pile of trash that it could have been. An average listen from the average genre that is country-pop. I don't anticipate another listenable effort from this group, so get it while it's hot!
Recommended Tracks: Need You Now, American Honey, Perfect Day
Consider: Stars Tonight