First off, the fact that I am posting a Lady Antebellum CD review for Need You Now here should not be a surprise, as they have been mentioned in this blog multiple times. Without trying to discount where an artist wants to be pegged, I hear their music and think “pop”, even if there are steel guitars and fiddles in the mix. I don’t normally do full-fledged CD reviews, but I am driven to do this for Lady A because Need deserves to be heard by a much wider audience than those that consider themselves country music fans. While they easily grabbed the number one slot on this week’s Billboard Top Albums chart, I am convinced that they are not hitting their full potential audience. With the pop crossover of “Need You Now” starting, it looks like they may be on their way.
The album starts off with a slightly extended version of “Need You Now” that contains a brief snippet of a message being left on someone’s answering machine. Not necessary, but it sets the mood well. I have been stunned by just how much “Need” has resonated with listeners, but the mood and the lyrics are ones that most people can relate to, and the fact that there isn’t a twang to be heard helps reach a wider audience.
Part of my attraction to this album is that it isn’t a country party album, and the more contemplative and quiet moments are my favorites. Even as you delve further into the album, fiddles and steel guitars mingle with a more mainstream sounding piano on “Our Kind of Love”, and the wider appeal of LA becomes more apparent. “When You Got a Good Thing” has a classic pop song structure, and “If I Knew Then” highlights the perfectly-matched vocal harmonies between Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott. Add in Dave Haywood’s knack for matching instruments, and there are moments of musical bliss scattered throughout the album.
For my money, the heart of this record is “Hello World”. From a song structure, I love how the sound of the track builds as the story develops, but the heart of the song is in its simple recognition of the challenges and joys of our everyday life, and how we need to get out there and just live it:
Sometimes I feel as cold as steel
And broken like I’m never gonna heal
And I see a light, a little grace, a little faith unfurls
Well hello world
Not every song is stellar, but even though they aren’t monumental, they are still good tracks that would not make you reach for the remote. “Perfect Day” is a sunny mid-tempo record that is much more in the vein of an upbeat Kenny Chesney track, and “Stars Tonight” veers dangerously close to Rascal Flatts territory without falling off that cliff.