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Lady Antebellum - Heart Break (Album Review)

Friday, 09 June 2017 Written by Simon Ramsay

If there were an auditory equivalent of the phrase ‘blink and you’ll miss it’, then it might easily be applied to the amount of country music you’ll hear on ‘Heart Break’, the seventh album from Nashville trio Lady Antebellum.

But, while this is their poppiest record to date, any genre snobbery is rendered irrelevant by its classy melange of feelgood toe-tappers and seductive ballads, many of which will provide the perfect soundtrack for couples looking to populate the planet with their own little angels.

After their hugely successful first two records, Lady Antebellum were stuck in a comfortable rut, with releases like ‘Own The Night’ and ‘Golden’ mostly formulaic and bogged down by filler. Which is why 2014’s ‘747’, where they broke new ground with career best results, was a breath of fresh air.

Unfortunately, and somewhat criminally, the last two singles from that effort underperformed, leading to the conclusion that, after six albums in six years, audience fatigue had set in. A time out was needed, both for the group to recharge their batteries and for fans to miss them.  

Following a year and a half hiatus that saw the threesome embark on various side projects, they decided to go back to basics for this comeback effort and, after fleeing their Nashville bubble and relocating to Florida, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood lived and wrote together for a number of months in the hope of recapturing the spirit of their earliest work.  

The carefree confidence and irrepressible enjoyment that oozes from ‘Heart Break’ proves they succeeded. Producer Busbee, fresh from his success with Maren Morris’ ‘Hero’, has applied the same radio-friendly gloss he gifted that equally mainstream record, allowing Lady A’s newfound timeless pop sound to sparkle.  

Good Time To Be Alive and The City are infectiously uplifting and showcase the gleaming, vibrant melodic hooks ‘Heart Break’ delivers in spades. You Look Good, meanwhile, is a winning envelope-pusher that mixes sexy horns and brassy R&B dancefloor grooves. Elsewhere, Kelley’s gruff earnestness, allied with some idiosyncratic harmonies, makes the Fleetwood Mac stylings of Army a soaring triumph.

In spite of its predominant aesthetic, ‘Heart Break’ isn’t an electronics-heavy departure like Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’. The drum sound is very ‘now’, but organic instrumentation, although not delivering anything resembling a Nashville twang, is still the backbone of songs that capture matters of the heart through a bittersweet cinematic lens.

Recollections of doomed young love and adolescent magic colour Big Love In A Small Town and Teenage Heart, The Stars gifts an empowering message to a beloved child and Somebody Else’s Heart, which explores romantic entanglement at its most challenging, highlights how Scott’s radiant voice could effortlessly melt an igloo. The title track, easily the most classic Lady A song here, and Think About You are rousing pick me ups fuelled by the power of post heartbreak independence. Think Swift without the spite.  

Even though Lady Antebellum aren’t cool or cutting edge (and don’t aspire to be), cynical music lovers will still find them annoyingly sentimental and unchallenging. Yet, in spite of the odd overly saccharine moment, this is a band who make exceptionally well-crafted music for and from the heart, not the head. In that respect, maybe there’s more of a country influence here than we’ve given them credit for.

Lady Antebellum Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed October 04 2017 - MANCHESTER Arena
Thu October 05 2017 - DUBLIN 3Arena
Sat October 07 2017 - GLASGOW SSE Hydro
Mon October 09 2017 - BIRMINGHAM Barclaycard Arena
Tue October 10 2017 - LONDON O2 Arena

Click here to compare & buy Lady Antebellum Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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