Interview: Lady Antebellum Will ‘Share a Little Bit of the Darker Sides’ on New Album
Country music all-stars Lady Antebellum recently released their first new song in two years, "What If I Never Get Over You" -- a bold return to the harmony-based, lovesick sound of "Need You Now" and the other early-career songs that made them famous. The country trio's new record should be wrapped up by the end of the year, and they say it gets deeply personal and took some vulnerability to step out and make.
"I think we’re finally at a point now where we’re very comfortable with who we are and we’re not afraid to maybe share a little bit of the darker sides," Charles Kelley told The Boot at a recent media event. "We felt like this was just such a good introduction to the project as a whole. There’s definitely some fun songs, but it’s definitely a deeper record. There’s definitely a lot of layers being pulled back."
There are two other confirmed songs coming soon that follow this same theme: Kelley in particular has penned one called "Be Patient With My Love," about his step back into religion after some life changes since the group's last release, 2017's Heart Break.
"This past couple years for me has been an interesting journey. I’ve definitely had a little bit of a come-to-Jesus with my wife and the band about controlling my drinking. I think anybody that’s been around me knows I can go after it pretty good," Kelley admits. "Through that process, I got more in touch with my spirituality, too. That song is one that, I think when people hear it, will get an insight to some of the struggles I’ve been through but also how it’s only gotten us stronger as a band."
Hillary Scott, meanwhile, wrote a song about her twin daughters Emory and Betsy, born in early 2018, when they were just eight weeks old. "It’s one that we’re really pumped for everybody to hear," she says.
"The verses are really the things that you struggle with. The choruses are talking about how love covers it all and how we are given the choice to choose love and to let it be love that we choose in the midst of all the other emotions that we feel in other circumstances," Scott continues. "It’s kind of a prayer to my girls, in a way."
As the artists' lives have changed, so has their subject matter. Now that they feel they have nothing to lose, they're taking more creative risks and presenting themselves transparently to the fans who have followed along the way.
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Since signing to Big Machine Label Group in 2018, after spending their career thus far with Capitol Nashville, Lady Antebellum have also taken on a new producer: Dann Huff. He's bringing a special touch to the album that balances their artistic desire for a "country Fleetwood Mac" sound and commercial viability.
"We’re all huge fans of his, first and foremost," reflects Dave Haywood. "It’s been such a pleasure musically, lyrically and vocally. He can play everything under the sun. It’s just been a great experience marrying all our strengths in the studio together."
Huff's passion and versatility has served Lady Antebellum well so far: "Everything is very intentional, and he’s got a process," Kelley says.
"I think the thing that I love about working with Dann is how encouraging he is for us to be the most authentic version of ourselves as a band. His perspective of our sound is what he’s watched us do over the course of our career at this point," Scott adds. "He’s just been really encouraging to say, 'These are the parts of y’all that I love the most, and let’s continue to really shine light on those parts.'"
Many of those parts are vocal-centric. The contrast of Scott and Kelley's voices are a signature sound for the group, and Huff's attention to clash of texture mixed with his inherent skill and patience has Lady Antebellum creating something completely true to themselves.
Lady Antebellum hope fans embrace the new music -- a piece of art for the band, and an important step in their career -- with open arms. They're treading new territory, and they have the talent and expertise to back it up. While things have changed rapidly, it's deepened their songwriting.
"There’s a lot of courage and bravery that comes out of speaking your truth and being honest," Haywood says. "I hope people dig deep and can find relatability in that courage."
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