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Lady Antebellum, ‘Bartender’ [Listen]

Bartender
Capitol Nashville

Lady Antebellum’s new song ‘Bartender’ brushes against themes found in the group’s biggest hit to date, but sonically it’s quite a deviation from ‘Need You Now’ or anything they’ve recorded released to radio. Perhaps only ‘Downtown’ served up a more surprising sound from this trio.

Here Hillary Scott navigates the trenches of loneliness while mending a broken heart. She turns to good friends, the club and booze to help her forget Mr. What’s-His-Name. It seems like another late-night hookup, but then:

Tonight I’ll let a stranger pull me on the floor / Spin me round and let ‘em buy a couple more / But before he gets too far I’ll let ‘em down easy,” she sings during the second verse.

The better of the two verses is the first, when Scott, Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley (co-writers along with Rodney Clawson) describe her situation and efforts to get back in the game.

Now there’s only one thing left for me to do / Slip on my favorite dress and sky high leather boots / Check the mirror one last time / Kiss the past goodbye.”

‘Bartender’ may be the least collaborative of all Lady Antebellum singles to date. Even the sassy ‘Downtown’ felt the presence of Kelley. Here he mostly lurks in the shadows of each chorus:

What I’m really needing now / Is a double shot of Crown / Chase that disco ball around / ‘Til I don’t remember / Go until they cut me off / Wanna get a little lost / In the noise, in the lights.

The rhythmic post-chorus and progressive production may be attributed to Nathan Chapman, producing Lady A for the first time. A tumbling mandolin keeps the song safely within country confines, despite the hip-hop leanings at this point. In the end the success of ‘Bartender’ depends on Scott’s performance as a lovelorn lady with wild in her eyes.

Why Fans Will Love It: ‘Bartender’ reminds one of Lady Antebellum’s biggest hit ‘Need You Now,’ without being a replica.

Key Lyrics: “Hey bartender pour ‘em hot tonight / ‘Til the party and music and the truth collide / Bring it ‘til his memory fades away / Hey bartender”

Did You Know?: Lady Antebellum tap producer Nathan Chapman for this song, and their upcoming fifth studio album. Chapman is best know for his work with Taylor Swift.

Listen to Lady Antebellum, ‘Bartender’

Next: See the Top 40 Country Songs for May 2014

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