CD Review: Lady Antebellum – Need You Now
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I’m sure every band has felt the added pressure to follow up a smash debut album with something better. Lady Antebellum found themselves with a dilemma most bands would kill for–the opportunity to build on a surprise success. Whether the band found itself trying too hard for a more polished and mature sound, or looked to out Sugarland “Sugarland,” Need You Now is more of a middle of the road release as opposed to a huge leap forward.
The title track, Need You Now, starts the CD off on a promising note, a song that wouldn’t sound too out of place on a few Fleetwood Mac albums. If only that vibe could last. From Our Kind Of Love on, the disc starts to wander more towards “we’ve heard this song before” territory rather than breaking anything close to new ground. American Honey (my personal favorite) sets the disc back on track to redeeming itself with a slight trip hop sound, as well as the atmospheric, almost U2 sounding Hello World. It’s from Perfect Day forward that the disc becomes a real mixed bag. While not a bad song in its own right, it’s just something we’ve heard too many times before, and in many instances done a little better than here. Love This Pain is the album’s obligatory highway country rocker which, to its credit, is done well enough to cause a gas pedal or two to hit the floor.
Unfortunately, it’s the second half that truly derails Need You Now. When You’ve Got a Good Thing, If I Knew Then, and Something About a Woman are all largely forgettable. Stars Tonight is the album’s most confusing track, a blend of country with a heavy riff reminiscent of The Clash’s Should I Stay Or Should I Go that never seems to work. Ready To Love Again is that “promise to find love” song intended to end the album on a hopeful note. It still falls well short of One Day You Will, the song that ended their first release.
Therein lies the problem. The album, along with nearly every track, follows that same old formula: the road rockers are just that, the ballads contain a rising crescendo with the sweeping bridge and chorus. End the album taking the listener on a journey of hope. Lather, rinse, repeat. Sorry Lady Antebellum fans, Sugarland does this better. LA did it better initially, too.
Lady Antebellum’s first release had a mix of wonderful harmonies, a youthful exuberance, and a sound that seemed on the verge of fresh, elements that are lacking in too many places here. It shows just enough flashes of living up to their debut, which becomes the problem. In no way is Need You Now a bad release, and I’m sure Lady Antebellum fans are going to have a field day with this. I’ll go back to their first one and hope that the third time’s the real charm.
Two and a half out of five stars.