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Review: 'Golden' shows different side of Lady A

Monday - 5/6/2013, 12:31pm  ET

This CD cover image released by Capitol Nashville shows "Golden," the latest album by Lady Antebellum. (AP Photo/Capitol Nashville)

MICHAEL MCCALL
Associated Press

Lady Antebellum, "Golden" (EMI Nashville)

After pulling out the stops with the heavily orchestrated grandeur of 2011's platinum-selling album "Own The Night," Lady Antebellum heads in the opposite direction with the stripped-down sound of "Golden."

The country vocal trio hinted at its new direction with the sparse, soul-strutting groove of "Downtown," one of the spring's most engaging country hits. As usual, Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood deal with the complexities of modern relationships -- in this case, a woman asking why her man doesn't take her out for a fun night on the town, like he once did.

The bare-bones arrangements also work well on the emotionally moving "It Ain't Pretty," about a woman living out her heartbreak in public, and on the roots-rocking "Better Off Now (That You're Gone)," which is reminiscent of classic Tom Petty.

The album occasionally recalls past successes: "Long Teenage Goodbye" has the sunny innocence of the 2010 hit "American Honey," once again showing off Scott's shimmering alto. The dramatic crescendos of "All For Love" prove that a big, grand sound, deployed at the right time, fits the group's dynamic duets.

A couple of weak songs dampen the overall impact, but all in all, Lady A continues to experiment and grow while sounding like no one else in contemporary country music.


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