Lady Antebellum returns to AMP with new feel
Seven years, three full-length albums and a Christmas record have come to pass since Lady Antebellum released “Need You Now” — the contemporary country superstars’ second and most successful studio album.
“Everybody thinks their newest record’s one of their best, but this really does feel like the best foot forward we’ve put on a record, probably since ‘Need You Now,’” says Charles Kelley of the trio’s latest release “Heart Break,” out June 9. After a hiatus from touring, creating music (as a group) and even the Nashville scene, Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood returned to the studio to produce a new record unlike anything they’d attempted before. “We try to write about what we know. There’s a lot of common themes that we’ve delved in [to] in past records, but some of the new [songs] this time around are about our kids and our family life; that’s something we haven’t touched [before] because we all have kids now.
“But definitely, the process has mixed up a lot,” Kelley continues. The threesome spent time in Los Angeles and in Florida, away from the schedules and commitments of daily life in Nashville, to free up their minds and their time for writing 11 of the 13 songs on “Heart Break” — their most significant writing contribution to date. “It has a lot of energy. We tried to have a bit of a sense of urgency to the record.”
Kelley says that energy and the genre-crossing elements of the new music set the stage for the group’s biggest production yet (pun intended) on the “You Look Good Tour” — named for the album’s single. The horn section featured on the single is along for the tour and is making appearances in songs like “Downtown” from the “Golden” record, as well as “Lookin’ for a Good Time” and “Love Don’t Live Here” from the group’s 2008 eponymous debut, breathing new life into some old favorites.
“It just feels like more of a party this time around,” Kelley shares. “I don’t know if it’s the production, the horns, or whatever it is, but it really does feel like we’ve stepped it up a notch with this tour.”
For the album itself, Kelley asserts it was reuniting with producer busbee — whose Grammy-nominated work with up-and-comer Maren Morris is just one of the many accolades to his name — that affected their sound the most. Known for throwing genrespecific confines out the window, Kelley says busbee knows how to keep the music timeless, but still push it to feel modern and current. A clear vision from busbee as a producer and co-writer combined with the trio’s reflection of their identity to elicit an album that is at once experimental and authentic.
“You just kind of know when you’re in there if something feels like you or not,” Kelley recalls of the production process. “The biggest thing was just sifting through all the songs we’d written, and I remember there were certain songs in there that felt like a hit to us, but he would say, ‘It feels like a hit, but it doesn’t feel like a Lady Antebellum hit.’ So we pushed each other in a great way — making sure we were really being true to ourselves as artists.”
Charles Kelley, left, of contemporary country sensation Lady Antebellum, says the trio’s new album “Heart Break,” released June 9, is their best yet. The group returns to the Walmart AMP Saturday night.