REVIEW: Lady Antebellum – Own The Night

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Artist: Lady Antebellum 

Album: Own the Night
Genre: Country/Pop
Label: Capitol Records (Nashville)

Far be it from me to sum up my feelings in one sentence (brevity is not my strong point) but I really hated this album. What starts off as a relatively loveable, soft pop foray trips over itself somewhere at the corner of self-indulgence and insidious and descends into a complete disaster. If you are a hopeless romantic with an endless well of patience to listen to their vacillating stories, you’ll love it. Otherwise, you may find it more amusing to take a run and jump out the window.

Own the Night would be markedly less irritating if they chose one state of mind and stuck to it. I don’t know who they’re singing about or what they’ve done, but they can’t seem to decide whether everything’s happy go lucky and wonderful or the person has done them a grave, sinister wrong. “We Owned the Night” for instance is genuinely nice, a billowing romantic folk track with a catchy beat and poppy, sensitive vocals. However, two songs later, everything’s gone horribly wrong. “Just a Kiss” is fragile and haunted, a massive departure from the breezy opening track. Hillary Scott has a beautiful voice, I just wish she’d find something more interesting to do with it. The song is country pop all over, with a quivering piano, sporadic blast of guitar, and measured drum kicks set to lots of heady, intensive emotions. It isn’t bad per se, but it’s a very sudden and dramatic change in tone, and when “Dancing Away with my Heart” comes along it’s clear everything’s soured horribly. This track is dull, terribly dull, tinged with all the longing and melancholy of a power ballad and absolutely no flavour whatsoever. “Friday Night” then regurgitates a tired guitar riff we’ve heard in about a thousand other songs, cross-references it through every country cliché you can think of, jacks the vocals up a gear and still fails miserably. If you’re still paying attention, the lyrics will also start to make you cringe about this point.

“Cold As Stone” and “Wanted You More” also need singling out in this area. The former is all about the weeping and longing for numbness; the title might better describe my feelings towards the song. The track begins graciously, keeping it slow and paltry, but towards the end makes an ill-judged foray into pretentious territory with a bursting string section that seems eerily reminiscent of the Braveheart theme. “Wanted You More,” meanwhile, seems like it’s aiming elsewhere at first, but soon rediscovers its inner anguish. The musical burst that comes with the chorus is testament – the guitars spread their elegiac wings and envelop all in the searing sound of heartache. The ostentatious string section is also game for another show.

The problem with this record is consistency. In between all of the above, everything is sweetness and light. I completely understand that your average record will have a mixture of slower, sadder numbers with more upbeat fare, but this is ridiculous. The changes in tone and pacing are just too irksome, unless the fault is in the tracklisting and a cleverer arrangement would have done them justice. “Singing Me Home” for example is sandwiched in between the above two songs, and inexplicably decides it’s going to be all cheery and down-at-home warmth and happiness. This one is quite likeable and nice, much like the first track, but I don’t understand how these cheerful vibes keep getting lost elsewhere. Who could be singing you home and leaving you cold as stone at the same time? I’m all for intensely introspective records and lots of emotion, I really am, but the indecision is too painfully obvious here and it doesn’t make for a particularly coherent sound.

Elsewhere, “As You Turn Away” is a schmaltzy ballad, but “Love I’ve Found In You” is happier, a veritable ode to joy by comparison with the others. “Somewhere Love Remains” seems to be about a goodbye, and is judged accordingly – slow and quite numbed, but intensely vanilla. It’s your standard issue pop song, basically, and you’ll either like its tender musings or not even notice they’re playing.

I can probably leave it here, you get the idea. I must add that my tastes can be acquired and for all my hatred, there are probably many who’ll love this. One man’s sensitive, poignantly introspective pop album is another person’s melodramatic nightmare. However, Taylor Swift (yeah go on, judge me) shall remain my one solitary guilty pleasure in this arena. Sorry, guys.

SCORE: 3/10
Review written by: Grace Duffy

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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