Three long years have passed since Lady Antebellum released their last studio album 747. In that time the trio went on hiatus to pursue their own solo endeavours with both Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott releasing commercially successful solo albums while Dave Haywood produced Post Monroe’s debut EP. For Heart Break, Lady Antebellum teamed up with producer busbee and spent a month writing with recording taking place Los Angeles and Florida.
Heart Break launched on a strong note with lead single You Look Good. Co-written by rising star Ryan Hurd, the track is an upbeat horn-driven number that incorporates funk and soul into the country pop mix. For my money, it’s the best album lead single the group has released since 2009’s monster hit Need You Now. Kelley and Scott share the lead vocals and it’s possibly the most carefree the group has ever sounded. Interestingly it’s one of only two songs on the record that the group had no hand in writing.
Anyone hoping for a more uptempo record based on You Look Good may find themselves disappointed. For the most part Heart Break is a mixture of midtempo numbers and ballads, with You Look Good being the most uptempo of the bunch. Album opener, and title track, Heart Break is a real indicator of what to expect from the record and sonically it’s not all that different from what we’ve heard from Lady Antebellum before.
In many ways the familiar feel of much of Heart Break will likely work in the group’s favour. Songs such as Somebody Else’s Heart could have been a cut from Need You Now and I can imagine it going down a storm live. Similarly Think About You recalls some of the band’s finest moments and it could easily score them a big chart hit if they choose to release it in the future.
When it comes to standout tracks Big Love in a Small Town is a real gem. Kelley and Scott utilise their harmonies to great effect and they sound, as always, great together. It’s the kind of sweeping love song the band is known for and it certainly plays to their strengths. Another strong moment is the uplifting feel-good Good Time to Be Alive that lodges straight into your brain from the moment you hear it.
Elsewhere on the record Lady A explore the perils of fame on album closer Famous, inject stadium friendly ‘woahs’ in the midtempo This City, and Hurt is the most straight-up ballad on the record that sounds almost Gaelic thanks to its dramatic strings.
Heart Break is a solid album but I can’t help but feel a little underwhelmed. My expectations were high and I was really hoping for a real evolution, which You Look Good seemed to promise. As always with Lady Antebellum, they have this ability to change your mind once you see them live so I’m hoping that their tour later in the year will allow me to connect a little more with these songs. Heart Break is pretty much business as usual for Lady Antebellum but they are the best at what they do so it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Track List: 1. Heart Break 2. You Look Good 3. Somebody Else’s Heart 4. This City 5. Hurt 6. Army 7. Good Time To Be Alive 8. Think About You 9. Big Love in a Small Town 10. The Stars 11. Teenage Heart 12. Home 13. Famous Record Label: Decca Release Date: 9th June 2017