Lady Antebellum

by: Lady Antebellum

Lady Antebellum is a two-guys-and-a-girl trio comprised of co-lead singers Charlie Kelley and Hillary Scott with multi-instrumentalist Dave Haywood. The group is also a songwriting collective, a Nashville rarity, co-writing most of the songs on its self-titled debut album. The three may have come up with material as good as what a publisher could have provided, although they never stray too far from formula, as reused titles like "Love Don't Live Here," "Long Gone," "I Run to You," "Home Is Where the Heart Is," and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," suggest. Love is true or false, depending on the song, or it's forgotten in the honky tonk haze of "Lookin' for a Good Time." Kelley has a sturdy country baritone, but he sometimes sounds a bit too pleased with his own rich tone and comes off mannered. Scott, by contrast, seems to know that her voice can't match Kelley's for distinctiveness, so she works harder at coming up with striking phrasing and emotional force. The contrast gives their duets a chemistry that is the band's strongest element. Producers Victoria Shaw and Paul Worley give the record a pop/rock sound, with plenty of guitars and rhythmic punch, the better to goose a little more feeling from the singers. At this point, Lady Antebellum is a group that seems to know the basics of contemporary country but isn't ready to move beyond them or redefine them for its own ends. Still, this is a good beginning. ~ William Ruhlmann

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