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Lady Antebellum
Lady Antebellum
Capitol Nashville Records
www.ladyantebellum.com


Lady Antebellum's self-titled debut album never lets their audience forget that they play country music, but the trio's brand of country has a modern flair for rock-flint guitars, panels of torchlight arrangements, graceful strings, and a pint of sultry blues. Their album is where country soul meets heartland rock, where the southern rock of Van Zandt and the Americana-bluegrass of The Duhks (produced "Dukes") share a common ground. Comprised of singers Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley and guitarist Dave Haywood, Lady Antebellum made the best with what they have fusing nostalgic country with modern-pop intonations. Produced by Paul Worley (Big & Rich, Dixie Chicks) with songs co-written by the members of Lady Antebellum and Victoria Shaw, the album shines light on some rootsy-prairie land-country harmonies between Scott and Kelley that make the melodies jump out at the listener. Tracks like "Love Don't Live Here" and "Lookin' For A Good Time" make good use of their harmonizing and inflaming the country rock vibrations to a Cross Canadian Ragweed decibel and a Bob Seger heartland rock ethos.

Candlelit guitar panes are tucked into the melodic strings while Scott's vocals resonate with arches like The Duhks lead singer Jessica Harvey on tracks like "All We'd Ever Need" and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You." Scott maintains beautiful control of her vocal melodies similarly to her mother, singer Linda Davis. Charles Kelley has more a loose bluesy register that is unlike his brother's, singer Josh Kelley. Kelley is a chaps-wearing type of singer that prefers to straddle the upbeat tunes like "Love's Looking Good On You" and "Slow Down Sister," although he does try his hand at the softer ballads like "One Day You Will" and "Things People Say," which he fairs very well at making vocal imprints that emboss velvety creases in the melodies. You can tell that the album has a major label behind it because the songs are so cleanly polished that it gleams like glass. Not a single tendril is left unfinished.

The lyrics are typical of country tunes and the country life with song titles like "Home Is Where The Heart Is" and the carousing attitude of "Lookin' For A Good Time." The lyrics are about euphoric love, hellish losses, and bouncing back on your feet. The song "Long Gone" brings them all together, "You're talking to a stranger, I'm not that girl anymore / That girl is long gone / Boy, you missed the boat, it just sailed away / Long gone, she's not drowning in her yesterdays / Bet you never thought I'd be that strong / Well this girl is long gone like the wind under Superman's cape / Like a thief in the night, I made the great escape." The lyrics show smarts in their characters and vulnerability in the human foible that makes people fall in love with all the wrong types.

Lady Antebellum's self-titled debut album has many enjoyable tracks that bring in other shades of music besides country. There are melodies that move to your heart rate like "I Run To You" and "Love's Looking Good On You," which are the most fun. And although the album is half made up of ballads, it does not ruin it because Scott and Kelley's vocal harmonies make up for those slow moments by jolting the tempo with expressive inflections. Some subliminal aspects in the album are the Americana-tinged guitars and fiddle tones of "Home Is Where The Heart Is" and the Italian-accented accordion vibrations that create soft undulations along "Can't Take My Eyes Off You." It's those little accents that make the songs more exciting than expected of a country album.

-Susan Frances


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