Features Editor Charlotte Kyle writes the CD reviews.
It is impossible to please everyone no matter how hard you try.
Authors struggle to weave plot and character development into captivating novels while actors strive to transform into a character set in one time, one place and in one moment. Artists are constantly criticized for being too much of this and not enough of that.
Musicians understand that. A song can be deemed “bad” just because of its genre with no regard to the elements of composition.
It may be harder, though, when an artist is widely praised. When you’ve had the amount of success Lady Antebellum has had in the past four years the criticisms faced turn from “Is this even good?” to “Can they possibly top what they did last year?”
The band’s third album, “Own the Night,” is no “Need You Now,”?just like “Need You Now”?was no “Lady Antebellum.”
It is, however, a great follow-up to their previous work. The album will please everyone from longtime country fans to casual pop radio listeners.
Their group has clearly learned from success as a crossover act and has found the perfect balance between country, rock and pop.
In fact, there is nothing accidental about “Own the Night.” Songs are structured on the album so listeners never hear too much of one singer. For every Charles Kelley solo there is a Hillary Scott solo.
Of the 12 tracks, seven are duets. With two lead singers as strong as Kelley and Scott it makes sense to let each artist shine.
(As a side note I?must say?I find it amazing people still think Lady Antebellum is a solo female singer. Do they think the female just has incredible range?)
Kelley takes the lead on the more lively and upbeat tracks. His voice has the ability to draw in a crowd and get them singing, so songs like “Friday Night” and “Singing Me Home” shine with his stage-like presence.
Scott, meanwhile, takes the lead roles on ballads such as “When You Were Mine” and “As You Turn Away.” Scott’s voice was made for heartbreaking love songs.
The first single from the album, “Just a Kiss,” seems like a nice yin to the yang of “Need You Now.”?While the latter was about yearning and urgency, “Just a Kiss”?promotes taking things slow and waiting for the right time.
“I know that if we give this a little time / It’ll only bring us closer to the love we wanna find,” Scott sings.
Standout track “Dancin’ Away With My Heart” is the perfect example of a Lady A song: shared back-and-forth vocals, beautiful imagery and subtle lyrics drizzled in country sweetness. It’s impossible to not fall in love with the song.
That statement rings true for “Singing Me Home,”?too. The song, written by Kelley, guitarist Dave Haywood and Rivers Rutherford, starts simple with an acoustic guitar as Kelley sings about his “baby riding shotgun singing just a little off key.”
As he hits the next line, “Her feet on the dashboard tapping out the backbeat” the faint sounds of drumsticks can be heard, making it impossible to not start tapping out the beat yourself.
Scott, meanwhile, harmonizes flawlessly with Kelley. Their voices are two pieces of the same puzzle, complementing each other perfectly on every track.
They bring out the best in each other: Scott’s softness evens out the occasionally gruff nature of Kelley’s country drawl. They are the sweet and salty chocolate-covered pretzel of the music world.
“As You Turn Away” features the beautiful piano and strings combination one expects from a strong ballad. It makes the perfect backdrop for Scott’s emotional breakdown.
“Own the Night” may not see the level of commercial and critical success “Need You Now” saw, but the album deserves its own attention and praise. It’s a catchy, beautiful album by talented singer/songwriters. You can’t beat that.