What I love about Lady Antebellum’s music is that the trio’s voices make incredible harmony, particularly duets between Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley (Dave Haywood is primarily on instruments, but also provides backup vocals).
They often look at love from all sides, singing about fraying, frayed or existing relationships. You’re bound to find at least one track focusing on either subject matter in their albums.
Golden, their fourth studio album, has more sprightly tracks than the habitual croon-like country ballads like in their previous albums – Lady Antebellum (2008), Need You Now (2010) and Own The Night (2011).
The choice of the first track of any album is a critical decision, me thinks – it’s what will make listeners opt to buy more of your music or dismiss you completely.
Lady Antebellum does not disappoint: Hillary Scott’s kicks off the album with “Get To Me”. The mid-tempo song starts with a catchy guitar and drum arrangement, and that’s what I love most about it.
“Goodbye Town” is another pop-rock, sing-along track with an undertone of heartbreak reminiscing good times with an old flame.
I’m not too fond of the lyrics in the first verse of “Nothin’ Like The First Time”. They’re a bit amateurish, making me think of a novice who’s just getting into songwriting. Which is odd, considering that the members of Lady Antebellum are incredibly talented, having written award-winning mega-hits in the past.
“Downtown”, released as the first single from the album, is already a hit. Hillary asks her man why he no longer treats her the same way he used to in the first heady days of their relationship, putting some funk with the “uh-uh” bits in the song.
Another up-tempo song, “Better Off Now (That You’re Gone)”, is a breakup track that you can dance to. Which is certainly a good thing when you’re bidding ‘adios!’ to someone who hurt you, instead of making things morose and depressing.
The song paves way for a slower track, “It Ain’t Pretty”, where Hillary is the main vocalist. She delivers the sadness without overwhelming us with her vocals.
Though their voices complement each other in “Can’t Stand the Rain”, the song doesn’t really pop out for me.
I’m always eager to hear the track that an album is named for/after: “Golden” is a gem! It’s the album’s sweetest ballad, and I fell in love with it just as I did for “When You Got a Good Thing” from the Need You Now album.
First time I heard “Golden”, it reminded me a little of Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis”, but I won’t hold it against the band.
Charles carries this beautiful love song in honor of that special someone, with Hillary providing backup vocals. The mellow harmony between the two and the accompanying guitar makes this track a striking song in the album.
“Long Teenage Goodbye” is a nostalgic song, looking back on the past with its theme of young love.
“All for Love” has less of a country influence, a rockish back-and-forth dramatic duet between Charles and Hillary about their broken relationship.
Charles takes the lead vocals again in “Better Man”, telling the love of his life that she makes him, well, a better man. It wouldn’t be surprising if grooms were to add this song to their wedding playlist!
“Generation Away” veers away from the trio’s steady subject matter about love and relationships. It’s one of those songs that would close a concert, the trio wanting to be part of history and hoping that the generation away will “talk about us that way”. The climax of the track shifts, too, with the song bleeding into the traditional spiritual tune, “He’s got the whole world in his hands”, making the song just playful and merry.
Overall, the album is as pleasant and terrific as their previous platinum-selling albums, and the memorable tunes will leave you singing and rocking along.
Best tracks: Get To Me; Goodbye Town; Downtown; Better Off Now (That You’re Gone); Golden; Long Teenage Goodbye; Better Man