In today’s music industry, a lot of artists and bands put out albums every year in order to stay relevant. And with that frequency of released material, many times fans get a mixed bag with earlier albums being stellar while subsequent albums struggling in vain to meet or surpass the standards of the project before it. However, some musical acts are able to avoid this problem with little to no missteps, and Lady Antebellum has proven to be one of them with the release of their sixth album, 747.
This album finds the pop-country sound Lady Antebellum executes so well with the band’s rich voices and their authentic, ‘all cards on the table’ song writing perfectly intact. While most albums save this guaranteed K.O. combination for certain highlighted points in the album, the group opens their album with this and keeps it going with little to no missteps.
‘Long Stretch of Love’ – While many artists tend to start albums slowly, Lady Antebellum bursts right out the gate at full force with ‘Long Stretch of Love’. On the song, the two lead singers take turns on each verse to talk about a tumultuous relationship. They each sing about how even though the relationship is a rollercoaster, they cannot pull themselves away from the relationship. The composition of the song perfectly exemplifies this with the electric guitar complemented by the banjo. Listening to the song will give the listener the group is gearing up for battle.
‘Bartender’ – ‘Bartender’ is the lead single, and while I am not ecstatic about the song, it’s see why this song was chosen. The song is a fusion of country, pop, and R&B that will remind many listeners of the upbeat pop and R&B songs of the late 90s and early 00s. The song finds Hillary Scott singing lead about going out with the girls to forget about a break up and how she plans to order as many drinks as it takes to aid her in her mission. This song is one of the very few misses on the album, with the song sounding slightly unnatural for the band. At times, it comes off as if you know the song’s only purpose is to serve as the radio single and comes off as inauthentic which is not in keeping with what many fans have come to love about the band.
‘Lie With Me’ – Listeners will find Lady Antebellum back in their lane on ‘Lie with Me’. Great music is supposed to make the listener feel like they are seeing the world through the singer’s eyes, and the band does this perfectly with this song. Chris Kelly resumes his role as co-lead singer as he and Scott sing from the point of view of a couple whose relationships have been on the rocks sometime and are coming to a close. The two sing and plead with their lovers to make love to them one more time with Scott telling her lover to ‘go on and put your favorite Motown record on’ and ‘do what we need to feel it all night long’ while Kelly then joins her to implore that they make ‘their last time their best time.’ The song is a beautiful and radio friendly testament of a love slipping away with a soul-piercing delivery that will make it almost impossible to not feel anything when you listen to this song.
‘Freestyle’ – A fun, up-tempo ode is the typical song people tend to think of when they think of modern country music. However, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a much appreciated lighthearted anthem for spontaneity, which perfectly fits with the song’s title. I mean, the chorus goes,
‘Hey, there ain’t nothing wrong/Just making it up as we go along/Find a little rock ‘n’ roll, hallelujah/Throw your hands up high/Throw your hands up high if the spirit moves you, babe/Singing hey, hey, hey/We can do it old school A B C style/Maybe we can go a little wild and freestyle.’
It’s a song that reminds you of the free spirit of youth. What’s not to love about that?
‘Down South’ – The album slows down again with ‘Down South’. The song is an ode to the beauty of the south from ‘two prodigal sons and daughters’ as the group sings about being ready to come home after spending some time away to spread their wings and coming back to find a little piece of themselves they feel they left down there.
‘One Great Mystery’ – I thought the song was nicely arranged and sung, but it’s not a standout song for me. It’s very cookie cutter, and to me, it almost sounds like they took a song that was originally meant to be a Christian rock song and changed some of the words around to make it about love. I can’t fault them as it’s been successfully done many times in music, but not this time. This time it just comes off as an uninspired filler.
‘Sounded Good At The Time’ – ‘Sounded Good at the Time’ is another pop-country hybrid dedicated to youth and spontaneity. However, this one is a bit different than ‘Freestyle’. Scott leads the song to highlight two memories of a relationship that both her ad Kelly swore would never end. Scott sings about how while it may have been a lie when her boyfriend said he loved her but it sounded good at the time. While the song is really about remembering the good times of a failed relationship, the song is written in such a way that it’s completely downplayed by the adventures you wish you could’ve been in on. In the end, this is another radio ready single that is perfect for top down driving, so I suggest you go out and take advantage of that now while you can before it gets too cold.
‘She Is’ – ‘She Is’ is the 2014 version of KT Turnstall’s hit single ‘Suddenly I See’. This time, the song is sung from two points of view: the view of a woman who wants to be like her and the view of a man who wants to date her. This is another song that doesn’t really stand out, but it doesn’t sound like it doesn’t belong there either.
‘Damn You Seventeen’ – A tale of teenage love, ‘Damn You Seventeen’ is a bit of an outlier to the rest of the album. While it still sings about love, the band is not singing about the joys and trouble of an adult relationship or having spontaneous fun, but about a teenage love lost. Scott’s and Kelly’s sultry voices complement each other perfectly as they reminisce about their time together and how their relationship ended abruptly after high school ended. The pain in their voices rings out as they sing about wanting to reach out to each other, but feeling like they can’t because too much time has passed. With its sad lyri
‘747’ – The penultimate song, ‘747’, is another song for the radio. Kelly takes the lead on this song as he sings about how he can’t get home fast enough to make it home and amend his relationship. Their soul-piercing delivery shines through again as their voices perfectly coat the melody of the song to make the listeners feel their worry and panic about the possibility that Kelly’s love may leave him.
‘Just a Girl’ – After spending most of the album singing about the different ups and downs the group has experienced in a relationship, Lady Antebellum closes their album with a female empowerment anthem. She sings about how she is worth more than being someone’s ‘consolation prize’, ‘another one of [his] past times’, or ‘just another number on his wall.’ A defiant declaration for respect, this is going to be a song many will relate to as we all just want to know that we are not just loved but respected, because love can’t exist without respect, right?
All in all, 747 is a great album with a lot of potential radio hits. Lady Antebellum shines the most on their songs about love and relationships, due to their honest songwriting and ability to make listeners feel like they are in their shoes. That, on top of the smooth voices that each member possesses, is going to guarantee that fans will be listening to the band for years to come. The group has already won a host of awards from multiple sources, and with this album, I have a strong feeling that streak will only continue.
On Repeat: ‘Long Stretch of Love’, ‘Lie With Me’, ‘Freestyle’, ‘Sounded Good At The Time’, ‘Damn You Seventeen’, ‘747’, ‘Just A Girl’