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Lady Antebellum’s “Own the Night” Talks Young Love and Broken Hearts

Jenny Chen |
September 14, 2011 | 1:53 p.m. PDT

Associate News Editor


 Jason Wolter/Flickr)
Jason Wolter/Flickr)
Country-pop trio Lady Antebellum released their third album, “Own the Night,” on Tuesday, offering a fresh collection of odes to new relationships and lost love. 

Lead vocalists Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott, as well as instrumentalist and background vocalist Dave Haywood, prove to be experts at romance as they croon effortlessly about anything related to love. 

Luckily, there is an evolution to the band’s latest effort, as the songs’ meanings move from simple expectations in a new relationship to unnerving passion and fear as relationships come and go to a belief that love still exists. 

The album kicks off with “We Owned the Night,” an up-tempo song that feeds on the feeling of ruling the world.  Lead single “Just a Kiss” follows, reminding listeners just what a young crush feels like, from the initial rush of lying in someone’s arms to being coy about a first kiss. 

“Just a shot in the dark that you might be the one I’ve been waiting for my whole life,” Kelley and Scott duet in the chorus, alluding to the slight anticipation that a romantic relationship could last forever. 

Lady Antebellum first reached initial success with their 2009 single “I Run to You,” but hit mainstream with their song “Need You Now” off their second album. The powerful love ballad was certified double platinum and their album won a Grammy Award for Best Country Album in 2011. 

While their third CD doesn’t demonstrate much growth in terms of sound, the band continues to prove their prowess at songwriting that is both simple and relatable. 

“Wanted You More,” for example, is an emotionally charged song about a relationship where one person clearly puts in more effort than the other. Scott sings, “My heart was open, exposed and hoping, for you to lay it on the line. In the end it seemed there was no room for me, still I tried to change your mind.” 

Meanwhile, “Cold as Stone” speaks to anyone hoping for some numbness to escape the pain of lost love.  A folksy instrumental at the end with a touch of flute adds to the quiet prayer to be immune to all feeling. 

Even more haunting is Scott’s voice in “As You Turn Away” as she begs: “Nothing more to give, nothing left to take. I keep reaching out for you, reaching out for you, as you turn away.” 

Despite these touching and soundly written tracks, the album does have a few fillers. “When You Were Mine” and “Somewhere Love Remains” are both pleasant, but hardly the most engaging or ground-breaking.

“Dancin’ Away with My Heart,” too, is just a sweet track that brings the listener back to more nostalgic times – those days of awkward invitations to dance – and wondering what happened to their first love. 

None of those tracks alter the album in any way, but do keep in tune with the album’s theme. 

Maintaining their usual formula, Lady Antebellum doesn’t branch too far into the up-tempo category either. However, those up-tempo tracks that do appear on “Own the Night” are reminiscent of previous efforts like “Stars Tonight” and “Perfect Day” off their second album. 

“Friday Night” reminds listeners that Lady Antebellum is a country band at heart, while “Love I’ve Found in You” could easily have people dancing around their bedroom wearing a cowboy hat and boots. 

“Singing Me Home” makes considerably less impact, but is a nice intermission to the heavy material that persist throughout the album. It’s pleasant, easy listening for an open-top drive through the summer breeze with one arm around a girlfriend (as the song references). 

The band ends their album with a semblance of hope, as they promise that “faith can still beat the odds” in “Heart of the World.” 

“It only takes one true believer to believe you can still beat the world,” Lady Antebellum insists, perhaps as an indicator that despite the hardships they describe on this album, true love still exists somewhere. 

Scott and Kelley find a good balance this turn around, complementing each other as they act as each others’ romantic counterparts. 

True, this album doesn’t offer anything genius. There aren’t astonishing sounds or dramatic changes to Lady Antebellum’s formula. Some country fans may even find that it lacks much root in the genre at all as most songs blend pop sounds readily. At first listen, none of the songs have the immediate spark of something like “Need You Now,” but the tracks capitalize on what their fans are probably looking for. 

The trio plays to its strength, which is writing relatable love songs. Each lyric is an emotion that listeners are likely to have felt before. While country star Taylor Swift can tug on the heart strings of teenagers discovering first relationships, Lady Antebellum can speak to an older audience who can both experience new love and look back on old ones too. 

With this album, Lady Antebellum has marked their territory and at the very least, it owns a nice fraction of the country-pop love song department. 

Recommended Tracks: 

Just a Kiss, We Owned the Night, Wanted You More, Love I’ve Found in You, Friday Night 

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