Lady Antebellum came back together after a hiatus of a year to record Heart Break, and the resulting project deserves to win Album of the Year at the 2017 CMA Awards for several reasons.
The superstar trio focused on outside interests for most of a year, with Hillary Scott releasing a family gospel project and Charles Kelley dropping a solo album and undertaking a tour. Dave Haywood placed his focus on producing during that time, and as it turned out, the break did the group some genuine good. They came back tighter, more energetic and more focused than they had been in years, and Heart Break is all the better for it.
The album's first single, "You Look Good," casts Lady A in a funky light that's entirely new for them, giving fans one of the freshest songs on country radio this year. Its title song and second single is a step in a completely different direction, and the album is chock-full of diversity and great performances. Read on for all of the reasons Lady Antebellum deserve to win CMA Album of the Year for Heart Break.
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The songs on Heart Break are all over the map, mostly drawing from the kind of pop-country that Lady A are best known for, but in a wide variety of different moods and styles. From the funky horns of "You Look Good" to the breezy pop of the title song, all the way over to the emotional impact of "Hurt" and the carefree "Good Time to Be Alive," the songs on Heart Break encompass every part of Lady Antebellum's artistry.
Usually, when we see a big-name act announce a break, it's the precursor to a major change in the group that's usually accompanied by a downward turn. It's hard to name any major act that came back as strong after a hiatus, especially if the members undertook solo efforts in the interim, but Lady Antebellum proved to be the exception with Heart Break. The album brought the group back to the table sounding refreshed, energized and ready to push new musical boundaries.
Part of the reason Heart Break sounds so rejuvenating is because the band members got out of Nashville and its sometimes-sterile environment to write the songs for the project. They holed up in Florida and California, turning the songwriting sessions into a makeshift vacation, living communally, eating, drinking and living together and getting back to the basics that made the band special to begin with. That easier vibe shows in the songs, though the band admit it wasn't easy to get started.
Lady Antebellum teamed with busbee to produce Heart Break, and his deft touch with the material pushed the trio into new areas while still retaining the signature flavor of the group's best work. Their vibe is all over the record, and the signature Lady A vocal sound is the most identifiable stamp of the material, but busbee flavors each track with exactly the right balance of hip and contemporary to make sure Heart Break is not an album on which Lady A run any risk of repeating themselves.
Lady A charged headlong straight into new musical ground with the first single from Heart Break, the ultra-catchy, ultra-hip "You Look Good." No sad ballads or familiar sounds to ease back into the marketplace here; the trio came out swinging for the fences with the coolest song of their career so far, featuring a funky vibe and a full horn section for one of the hippest tracks of the year. It's worth the price of admission all by itself, and coupled with all of the other great music on Heart Break, it's a no-brainer that the project deserves Album of the Year at the 2017 CMA Awards.