Black Music Matters Festival

Lady A (formerly Lady Antebellum)

Need You Now – 2010 (Capitol Nashville)

Reviewed by Tim Johnson

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CDs by Lady A (formerly Lady Antebellum)

Despite their commercial success and numerous awards, some critics felt that Lady Antebellum's self-titled debut, released in 2007, wasn't country enough. And those critics won't be happy with its follow-up. A pleasant selection of pop-infused songs, this sophomore offering from the photogenic trio stays in a fairly safe middle range. The themes are country enough - lonely calls in the middle of the night, driving down open highways, heading to the lake in a jacked-up jeep - but eliminate a few stray strains from a steel guitar or a fiddle, and these songs would fit perfectly into a Top 40 rotation. And that's probably the point.

There are certainly a few standouts and surprises. Perfect Day is an instant toe-tapper, American Honey evocatively recalls a sweeter time, and Hello World, with lines like "Sometimes I feel/Cold as steel/And broken like I'm never going to heal" reaches into a surprisingly deep and dark place. Perhaps as a result of the success of Lookin' for a Good Time, Hillary Scott quite nicely handles a healthy portion of the vocals on the album, and at least one of the three had a handle in penning all but a small handful of the tracks.

It's nice listen, and you might just like it - unless, of course, you find yourself nodding and voicing a loud "Amen" every time you hear Jackson/Strait's Murder on Music Row.