In the roughly year-and-a-half since Lady Antebellum released their breakout album Need You Now, the young Nashville trio has quickly turned into one of the most recognizable and promising acts in any genre. Need You Now, with worldwide sales in excess of five million copies and five Grammy awards to its credit, introduced fans to the group’s dynamic harmonies and powerful delivery. Now, on their third album, Own The Night, Lady A shows their continued growth with a set of 12 songs wrapped in emotion and displaying a vibrant presence.
Working again with Producer Paul Worley, Own The Night focuses much of its attention on individual moments in time. “Dancin’ Away With My Heart,” with wistful open chords and a dreamy guitar melody, captures the interaction between older versions of two young first loves. I brush the curls back so I can see your eyes, Charles Kelley sings with a comfortable familiarity before Hillary Scott adds, And the way you move me was like you’re reading my mind. On the ballad “As You Turn Away,” Hillary takes the lead to explore the exact moment a heart breaks at the end of a relationship. Over deep, dramatic piano tones and stirring strings, Hillary sings with touching sadness through the bridge, One step my heart is breaking, one more my hands are shaking/ The door is closing and I just can’t change it. Charles adds backing harmonies in a poignant display of what makes Lady A so special.
The chemistry between Lady Antebellum is captivating. On the album’s first single “Just A Kiss,” a mid-tempo power ballad, Hillary and Charles trade off sweet verses while guitarist/pianist Dave Haywood supports with tasteful melodies and instrumentation. The group’s dynamic allows them to explore a wide range of emotions as they each add their own voice. Later on the album, on “Somewhere Love Remains,” thoughtfully positioned bass, piano and guitar lines that allow space for each other without crowding tracks highlight the music and production. When the smooth chorus enters with the lines, Baby, just breathe in, breathe out/ before you turn away just slow down, the entire song comes alive.
Own The Night is cohesive in its overall approach as music and production work together at every turn. The highlight track “Cold As Stone,” a folk-leaning piece with dobro and mandolin, is atmospheric and haunting in its open production. With beautiful and descriptive lines like, Wish I was cold as stone/ Then I wouldn’t feel a thing/ Wish I didn’t have this heart/ Then I wouldn’t know the sting of the rain, the song brilliantly captures the raw emotions involved.
On Own The Night, Lady Antebellum continue to develop their sound. The album is an engaging and accessible set that showcases the trio taking another step while building upon the strengths of past hits like “Need You Now” and “Hello World.” While the chunky, pop/rock guitars of “Friday Night” and the whimsical melodies of “Singing Me Home” bring depth and varying sounds to the record, the special chemistry of Charles, Hillary and Dave is what shines most. Own The Night is an indication that Lady A is not ready to slow down, even after the monumental highs they’ve already experienced.