A few years ago, The Onion ran a story about Matchbox Twenty putting the final touches on its fictional new album Beige, working hard to water it down and make it as dull as possible. If that story were written today, Lady Antebellum would be the ideal subject: The hugely popular country-pop trio conquered waiting rooms across America with its 2009 single “Need You Now” on the way to winning Grammys for Record of the Year and Song of the Year, cementing its position as the most successfully inoffensive band in the country. The group’s third album, Own the Night, is blandness personified, a country album without any twang, a pop album that never pops. It’s the musical equivalent of a throw pillow.
- Lady Antebellum
- Own the Night
It’s also easy to digest, with slow-moving songs full of generic lyrics about love gained and lost, sung with clinical proficiency but no personality by co-lead vocalists Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott. The mostly mid-tempo ballads are crushed by overbearing string arrangements and heavily processed guitars, although occasional flashes of life do break through. “Friday Night” may be a standard-issue good-time country song, but at least it sounds like actual country music, and “Singing Me Home” has some creative harmonies reminiscent of the far superior Little Big Town. The rest of the album is aggressively unremarkable; lead single “Just a Kiss” has been all over country and adult-contemporary radio, effectively filling time. “I wish I was cold as stone,” Kelley and Scott sing on one of the album’s more turgid tunes. They may not be, but their music sure is.