Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
Six albums into its career, Lady Antebellum pretty much has the formula down pat. Either Hillary Scott or long and lanky Charles Kelley assumes lead vocals with Dave Haywood also providing vocals plus guitars and mandolin in a bunch of songs easy on the ears with a story often involving a lust for love.
The typical song ("Lie With Me," for example) starts with Kelly or Scott taking a stanza, followed by the other with both then tackling the chorus together. This has worked quite well for Lady A since they started in 2007. If ain't broke... Then again, Kelley and Scott are adept at trading vocals, and it makes sense when you're talking love songs or looking back ("Damn You Seventeen"). A sturdy vocal chemistry is big time important if going to go this route, and Kelley and Scott effortlessly make it work.
Fortunately, both are strong singers. Kelley has a soulful edge to his delivery and is strong enough as a singer to deal with spare instrumentation to let his voice shine through. He gets a bit funky on the ear-pleasing single "Freestyle" with a lot going on musically from a Hammond 3 Organ to mandolin and banjo from producer Nathan Chapman.
Scott's delivery is straightforward, pleasant and sometimes breezy. ("Down South")
One part that's a bit different is that Chapman, who is best known for producing all five Taylor Swift releases, replaced Paul Worley as co-producer. There are no obvious differences in approach. Chapman didn't particularly up the traditional country quotient here (although banjo and mandolin figure prominently at times) as Lady Antebellum would be rightfully characterized as a pop band in a different era.
Lady Antebellum benefits from generally having strong material. The trio had a direct hand in writing 6 of the 11 songs. To say that the songs are radio ready would be an understatement. They sure sound good, even if they don't particularly cut very deep.