|"'Nightfall' is Little Big Town's album of 'peaceful' social commentary in a divisive world". Musikalisch in 13 wunderbare, gesanglich und instrumentell hinreißend vorgetragene Lieder gefasstes, überaus ambitioniertes, neues Album von Little Big Town. Das immer mal wieder als "Fleetwod Mac des Country" bezeichnete, mit vielen Grammys und anderen Preisen hochdekorierte Quartett zeigt sich textlich engagiert und kritisch wie nie zuvor. Man hat etwas zu sagen. Dazu packen Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Roads, Jimi Westbrook und Phillip Sweet die teils sehr zum Nachdenken anregenden Themen nicht in rauschende Partyheuler, sondern in entsprechend exquisites, überaus niveauvolles Midtempo- und Balladen-Songmaterial mit tollen Arrangements. "This is no 'rah-rah beer festival'", betonte die Band dazu in verschiedenen Interviews (nachzulesen in u. a. Original Album-Review des New Yorker Wall Street Journal). "Nigtfall" ist eine absolute Glanzleistung von Little Big Town!
Original Album-Review des New Yorker Wall Street Journal:
Ambitious country-music performers face some daunting choices these days. They can lean toward furthering the genre’s tradition of capturing under-explored scenes and sentiments of contemporary adult life, and thus risk appealing to hard-core connoisseurs only. Or they can engage with popular tropes that, however often repeated, dominate big-time country radio, winning acceptance by the widest audience in the process. The fairly stark dichotomy can be characterized as more lettered, Americana-adjacent country versus country pop; aiming at more mature versus younger audiences; or even simply as album-centered versus hot-single-oriented production.
But there is a third, especially challenging route—one pursued by such repeatedly honored practitioners as Miranda Lambert, Eric Church and Dierks Bentley : working consciously and deftly to have it both ways. And among vocal groups over the past decade, none has proved more adept at walking this road than the mixed-gender, always vocally harmonious quartet Little Big Town—founders Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman, with Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet. Winners of the Country Duo/Group Performance Grammy for “Pontoon” (2012), “Girl Crush” (2014) and “Better Man” (2016), they were also the Country Music Awards’ Vocal Group of the Year for six years running, 2012-2017. Their latest album, “Nightfall” (Capitol Records Nashville), set for release Jan. 17, is yet another in their succession of album gems, and a prime example of an artfully constructed offering likely to gain popularity as well as critical praise.
The most-discussed track before the album’s release has been “The Daughters,” a melodic ballad written by Ms. Fairchild along with respected Nashville songwriters Sean McConnell and Ashley Ray. Introduced by the group on the televised ACM Awards back in April, it outlines the circumscribing demands and expectations young girls are so often subjected to and offers them parental hope, but a chorus line that tossed in “I’m just looking for a God for the daughters” effectively ruled it out as a single promoted to wary and guarded pop-country radio. (The same edgy cheekiness had marked the easily misunderstood “Girl Crush,” and brought more attention to it.) “The Daughters” was nominated for this year’s Country Duo/Group Performance Grammy before the album was even out.
The first track that was vigorously promoted as a single is a song about drinking, safer country territory, and is in a traditional honky-tonk mode—not just in sound and rhythm but in its clever turn on expectations. “Over Drinking” is not about drinking too much, but about being finished with crying in a beer: “I’m drunk ’cause I’m happy, not drunk ’cause you’re gone; I’m over drinking over you.” Classic hard country. But for those looking for a pop alternative, the very next album track is “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” which, after a teasing after-hours jazz-like opening, turns to a thumping salute to friends named Jack, Jose, Brandy, Sherry and Captain. No explanations required—and audience balance achieved.
The latest single, “Sugar Coat,” is a moody, dark ballad with Ms. Fairchild singing lead, in the persona of the long-suffering wife of a husband with wandering ways. She doesn’t drink, doesn’t take pills, just smiles “with a lump in my throat.” Many will find the song instantly relatable; it was written by country’s expert on such situations, Lori McKenna, along with Josh Kerr and Jordyn Shellhart. One of the advantages of a track record like Little Big Town’s is the happy availability of new songs that work for them from top writers—a number in this case co-written along with the band, and with Ms. Fairchild in particular. The album’s all-star songwriting contributors include Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuck, Grammy-winning producers and collaborating writers for Kacey Musgraves’s “Golden Hour” album last year; and the so-called Love Junkies (Ms. McKenna, Hillary Lindsey and Liz Rose ) who’d been responsible for “Girl Crush.”
Overall, the instrumentation is as varied as the album’s many moods demand, and the always strong Little Big Town vocals rise to the varied occasions. But as the songs add up on “Nightfall,” you notice that there’s a theme at work, reflected in the album title—moods when the lights go down; dreams; thoughts while lying in bed alone or with company, old or new. It’s often sophisticated, yet nonetheless country-ready, after-dark material.
“Nightfall,” the group has been telling interviewers, is no “rah-rah beer festival.” Indeed, the album’s release show is set for New York’s Carnegie Hall on Jan. 16, and the Apollo Theater the following two nights. To use a phrase only occasionally appreciated or particularly appropriate in country, this is a class album from one classy group. (Barry Mazor / The Wall Street Journal)
Das komplette Tracklisting:
1. Next To You - 4:06
2. Nightfall - 3:21
3. Forever And A Night - 4:26
4. Throw Your Love Away - 3:44
5. Over Drinking - 3:10
6. Wine, Beer, Whiskey - 3:16
7. Questions - 3:03
8. The Daughters - 3:32
9. River Of Stars - 3:37
10. Sugar Coat - 3:39
11. Problem Child - 3:35
12. Bluebird - 3:11
13. Trouble With Forever - 3:31