Album Spotlight: Lady Antebellum, ‘747’ – ToC Critic’s Pick
'Long Stretch of Love' is where one will most recall the sound of the classic rock band. The uptempo cut introduces everything new about '747' in one spellbinding three-minute-long moment one begs to hear live.
“There’s a long stretch of love / Comin’ down the line," they sing, with Hillary Scott leading. It's like an amped up version of 'The Chain.' "I’ll be right here beside you when these good times get tough / Baby, we’re in a for a long stretch of love.”
The similarities between Lady A and Nicks' group pull back from there, but you'll catch hints in nostalgic songs like 'Damn You Seventeen.' Harmonies mixed with more pop-rock friendly production makes the comparisons unmistakable, and unmistakably unique in country music.
“My heart’s still stuck at a stoplight, with you sittin’ there next to me / And the red light won’t turn green / Yeah it won’t turn green / Damn you seventeen,” they sing to close the chorus.
Over their last few albums, Charles Kelley and company had fallen back to the middle, or maybe they middle had shifted towards their sound, as happened with Eric Church. '747' provides depth, variety and most importantly, a vibe Lady Antebellum can call their own.
'Freestyle' is Kelley's funkiest contribution. With 'Down South,' one is able to pull back a layer on Scott's personal life and childhood. 'Just a Girl' does the same thing. The female lead -- and her bandmates -- make a statement with this rambling, banjo-driven lyric delivered from the point of view of a scorned woman.
Chapman's touch might be what makes this project so sharp, however. Nothing drags. In fact, anytime the album slips too far to the middle ('One Great Mystery'), it's quickly pulled back with an edgy rhythm or rich, layered arrangement. 'Sounded Good at the Time' is the perfect follow-up to 'Mystery.' Like Fleetwood Mac, this group does nostalgia well.
Key Tracks: 'Long Stretch of Love,' 'Bartender,' 'Sounded Good at the Time,' 'Damn You Seventeen'
I'll Pass: Amongst the songs Lady A turned down before they became huge hits for other artists: Kenny Chesney's 'American Kids' and the Band Perry's 'Better Dig Two.' "It just didn't fit," Charles Kelley tells the Tennessean, adding that Miranda Lambert had 'Downtown' on hold before they cut it.
Did You Know?: '747' is the first record Lady Antebellum has cut without producer Paul Worley. They brought frequent Taylor Swift collaborator Nathan Chapman in to helm this project.
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