Little Big Town is no stranger to the country music scene. After forming in 1998, the band of equal parts men and women paid their dues and came to have their name associated with some of country’s most prominent people and places, including Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, and one of the holy venues of country music, The Ryman Auditorium. But they haven’t stopped there, having released another studio album, Nightfall, at the beginning of this year.
With four members, Little Big Town capitalizes on having a variety of voices to work with, layering themselves so that a CSNY-harmony sound is achieved. However, Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet, and Jimi Westbrook, are just as much individuals as they are a group, and though Little Big Town is certainly more country than rock ‘n’ roll, the gender-split dynamics of the band are reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac.
On the opening track, “Next To You”, this is apparent as a male/female duet leads the way, putting an emphasis on the story between two people who love each other deeply in a sort of cup-runneth-over way until it finally explodes from the bottom up into a bigger sound. Not a bad way to start an album. The title track also features echoed female vocals that may remind listeners of a Stevie Nicks tune or two.
And though a few songs employ rather cheesy lyrics, the band stays true to their humble, country roots, including plenty of steel guitars. On “Over Drinking”, Karen puts forth a Tanya Tucker-esque performance. “No more 80 proof bourbon to get you off my mind,” she sings, “I still go out with the boys and knock back a few, but I’m over drinking you.” No country album would truly complete without a track like this -- full of lonesome lyrics and booze. But Karen has an even stronger song to show, “The Daughters.” “Girl, watch your mouth and watch your weight,” she sings. “Mind your manners, smile for the camera, and pose like a trophy on a shelf. Dream for everyone but not yourself. I’ve heard of God the son, and God the father, I’m still looking for a God for the daughters.”
In mixing religious wording with a feminist stance, she makes a worthy point about women in the country music business, who have historically been overshadowed by their male counterparts, despite being a huge reason for the success of the industry.
For fans of traditional country music, but who might be looking for an added twist here or there, Nightfall is a good place to start.
Written by Allison Rapp