Listening to … Lady Antebellum, ‘Need You Now’

Lady Antebellum are Dave Haywood, Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley. Photo courtesy of Capitol Records Nashville.

Lady Antebellum are Dave Haywood, Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley. Photo courtesy of Capitol Records Nashville.

Lady Antebellum‘s “Need You Now” is a lovely echo of the heartland.

The album doesn’t strike a listener this way by wrapping itself up in the Stars and Stripes and marching through amber waves of grain. The keys here are honesty, simplicity, the beautifully blended voices of Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley, craftsmanship of multi-instrumentalist Dave Haywood and the sensitive guidance of veteran producer Paul Worley. The album doesn’t drop until Tuesday, but country and pop radio listeners have already heard this quality in the title track, an after-hours confessional fueled by a bit too much whiskey. Songs like this are when “Need You Now” is at its best — interior ballads like “Hello World” and “If I Knew Then.”

There are also some great numbers that will surely get the crowd on its feet when Lady A opens for Tim McGraw at Rupp Arena next month, chiefly “American Honey” — OK, the album sells it’s down-home roots a little bit. Lady A strikes the right tone for most of the 11 tracks on this effort that not only affirms the group is the real deal after its hit debut, but also shows significant growth. Like the band, “Need You Now” feels familiar on the first listen and then settles in over time.

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