News And Notes
Nov 1

GAC Album Review: Lady Antebellum’s On This Winter’s Night

Lady Antebellum

Lady Antebellum’s 2012 Christmas CD. Photo courtesy of Capitol Nashville.

During breaks from their Own The Night 2012 World Tour, Lady Antebellum hit the studio in the middle of summer to record an album full of Christmas songs. The 12-song set, which was recorded in a studio adorned with holiday lights to help create that festive ‘winter’ wonderland atmosphere, builds off the stunning dynamics of the award-winning trio while also capturing the enchanting glow of the holiday season.

On This Winter’s Night, which is available now, pairs the group once again with producer Paul Worley, the man behind the controls since Lady A’s debut in 2008. The overall sound is slick and modern, and while the project includes holiday standards like “A Holly Jolly Christmas” and “Christmas Baby (Please Come Home),” the group brings a vibrant energy to the old favorites with their special chemistry. On the former, it’s Hillary Scott taking the lead, developing a bouncing melody over a big band sound complete with swelling horn fills. On “Christmas Baby (Please Come Home),” Charles Kelley’s urgent delivery is punctuated with doo-wop harmonies from Hillary and Dave Haywood.

While big band brass and a heavy dose of Christmas cheer fill out selections like the funk / jazz-inspired “This Christmas” and a rollicking version of “Blue Christmas,” Lady A is truly at their best on the more traditional country leaning songs. Hillary’s classic delivery intertwines with harmonies from Charles and Dave on “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” before a tasteful guitar and fiddle handoff plays through. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” which follows acoustic guitar and fiddle lines, showcases the groups’ layered voices carrying through a room like the warmth of a winter fire. A constant throughout their career, Lady A once again shows off the ability to create compelling vocal arrangements.

The reigning CMA and ACM Vocal Group of the Year, Lady A re-worked the arrangements for two of the project’s songs. Both featuring lead vocals from Hillary, “The First Noel” and “Silent Night (Lord Of My Life)” are stunning works that display two very different styles. Fingerpicked acoustic guitars and cello serve as a soft backdrop on “The First Noel” as Hillary navigates the tender melody to a finish at the top of her range. The intricate “Silent Night (Lord Of My Life)” builds from her solitary voice into a powerful surge as varying melodies from herself, Charles and Dave each add a complex element to the strong rhythm. The trio also wrote the loving title-track, an enchanting conversion of mandolin, piano and harmony that drives right at the meaning of Christmas.

Enchanting arrangements and instrumentation play a key role in creating Lady A’s winter sound. “All I Want For Christmas Is You” creates a sense of mystery from the moment descending notes of a mandolin are heard. Hillary’s voice is especially soulful here, and on “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” the trio’s harmonies drift magnificently like snowflakes falling as they sing together, I’ll be home for Christmas if only in my dreams. Album-closer “Silver Bells” stands as another example of this gentle brilliance as stuttering percussion teases the senses while Charles and Hillary create an alluring melody.

With a captivating sound working to create its own sense of wonder, On This Winter’s Night treats listeners to a collection that captures the essence and marvel surrounding Christmas.

Key Tracks – “The First Noel,” “Christmas Baby (Please Come Home),” “Silver Bells,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”

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