Lady Antebellum, ‘Own the Night’ – Album Review
In an effort to break new ground on their just released album, ‘Own the Night,’ Lady Antebellum occasionally forget their strengths and weaknesses. Unique delivery, imaginative lyrics and contagious melodies have made the trio country superstars in just five years. But nobody is going to mistake Charles Kelley for Ronnie Dunn, or Hillary Scott for Carrie Underwood.
A handful of songs on ‘Own the Night’ rely too heavily on the pair’s vocal powers. Like many successful country singers (Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift, for example), they’re not built to soar atop long, flowing lyrics. When they stretch a note longer than a second or three, a flat spot is created. ‘Wanted You More’ is song that suffers from this, as is ‘As You Turn Away.’
A few others are saved by emotional performances and effective orchestration. ‘Cold as Stone’ seems like a likely candidate for the next single, but radio will probably trim the flute solo at the end. That’s a shame because even though it’s reminiscent of something from the movie ‘Titanic,’ it’s a great way to close an impassioned and dramatic production. Once again producer Paul Worley has done a great job balancing the many layers and styles that make up a Lady Antebellum album.
‘Own the Night’ has a few snoozers, but they don’t cast a shadow over the many bright spots. ‘We Owned the Night’ and ‘Singing Me Home’ are as fun and funky as anything Lady Antebellum have recorded thus far. Neither one should have much crossover success, which is a good thing for a band that was beginning to gather criticism for sounding too “pop.” ‘Friday Night’ is another new direction. It opens with a guitar riff that sounds borrowed from a great Pat Benatar song.
Unlike many albums, the highlights of ‘Own the Night’ are spread evenly throughout the project. Song No. 10 is ‘Love I’ve Found in You’ — another uptempo rocker that rides along on fiddle breaks — and the closer ‘Heart of the World’ is probably the second most effective ballad behind ‘Cold as Stone.’ Song order is an under appreciated necessity, and Lady A do a great job of spacing out the peaks and valleys on ‘Own the Night.’ Not every courageous step they take lands on solid ground, but it’s difficult to criticize a band for taking artistic chances.