With this album, the trio looks to continue to give Rascal Flatts competition as Need You Now really feels like an album that is poised to make Lady Antebellum even more successful. While the title track obviously is helping to bring the group to higher awareness from the rest of the music world, outside of country music, the fourth track on Need You Now is an absolute stunner. “Hello World” starts off with a soft lilt before rising up into an anthem about taking in the joys of what life is all about. It’s the kind of song that U2 and Coldplay have become stars with and something that might’ve worked well on the latest Sugarland album. Despite those comparisons, this is a song that is wholly Lady Antebellum and it truly feels like an event and not just another song. Yes, it’s not ‘country’ in the traditional sense but the lyrics do and there are times when a good song is just that, a good song. Even the cascading strings in the final crescendo of the song can’t derail it. It’s just pretty.
“American Honey” is a song that Lady Antebellum released as their second single prior to the release of this album. This song features Hillary Scott on the lead vocals and it’s the first time the group has sent one of her songs to radio as a single. Her vocal isn’t half-bad here while the lyrics, which were written by Hillary Lindsey, Cary Barlowe and Shane Stevens, discuss a simpler time where things were sweet and pure, like American Honey. After listenening to “Hello World,” It’s hard to wonder why the band went with this one as a single outside of it feeling more like a ‘country’ song lyrically and vocally. “Perfect Day” rolls out of the speakers with a joie-de-vivre that really would lend itself nicely to a summer playlist. Like many of the songs on the record, the melody seems to be driving the song before the lyrics, which basically are about living in and enjoying the moment. Another summer ready song is the duet “Stars Tonight.” “Somethin’ About A Woman” is perhaps the most ‘country’ song on the record, with a healthy dose of honky tonk-ish piano, slide guitars, fiddles and two-step rhythm section to it.
“Love This Pain” features some nice mandolin and acoustic guitars leading the pop-leaning melody that suits Charles Kelley as he sings moody lyrics about loving being hurt too much to leave somebody. Even though the up-tempo stuff is good on this record, the duo really shines on the ballads like “When You Got A Good Thing Going.” This one, which finds Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott in duet mode, is about a couple who are thankful that they’re able to make it through ‘ups and downs’ to ‘hold on tight’ because they’ve ‘got a good thing going.’ A little clichéd? Perhaps. But the song sure does sound good. “If I Knew Then” finds Lady Antebellum exploring love again but instead of being about a great romance, it’s a song is about not taking a chance at love when it might be in front of you. It’s a song that anybody who’s missed a chance or not been brave enough to strike up a conversation will be able to relate to.
Even though this album is clearly on the pop side of the modern country music ledger it retains enough of the country music elements, whether that’s a couple of times where fiddles and mandolins or steel and slide guitars pop up or when hearing the lyrics. Need You Now is the work of a music group that is not only growing as an act but as adults making their way in the world as well. This is a record that could find Lady Antebellum becoming the biggest country band, group or artist of 2010.
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