When you listen to this album, you get the feeling of sweet nostalgia mixed with softer harmonies and folk-style influences. The award-winning group, Little Big Town, recently released their tenth studio album with a new and warmer perspective. Due to the pandemic, the group had time to focus on their personal lives for the first time in their two-decade career. They each took time to reflect and grow while they worked on the record.
“Mr. Sun is intentionally an emotional record that holds hands well with our last record, Nightfall…Mr. Sun is focused on better days ahead, the value of friendships and family; it touches on heartbreak and letting go, but it’s full of sunshine and joy.” Band member, Karen Fairchild said at a press release.
The use of the brighter sounds more associated with the seventies beach genre not only is a metaphor for the meanings behind the songs but also gives the listener the feeling of “positive vibes” throughout the album.
“The album has a special feeling to it,” Another member, Philip Sweet, added. “Life is short; we are here to live it with the ones around us, loving them and ourselves the best we can. All the while, thankful for another turn around the sun.”
The album gives you the impression that it’s all happiness but the humanity and underlying sadness in each track says otherwise. Each song tells a story of reflection, overcoming, and empowerment that speaks from the band’s personal experiences. The slower sounding songs like “One More Song” brings to the table the story of heartbreak between two people who still love each other. One particular song, “Heaven Had A Dance Floor” embodies the seventies soft, groovy sound that one could dance to. It is rhythmic and sweet as it tells the story of two people caught-up in lost love. The beachy-pop sound of “All Summer” reminisces on young love and the joys of what makes summer fun. It will likely make you want to bop a little bit as it is a smooth and dreamy track.
The band has always been known to capture messy situations in their storytelling in songs like “Girl Crush” and “Quit Breaking Up With Me”. Their grittier and bolder songs seem to be a slight departure with the newest album. While the storytelling is still reflective of their style, the sound style is new and innovative for the group. The album ends with the sweet-sounding “Friends of Mine” with gospel-style harmonies and with its full-circle line of “Take courage friends of mine” that seems to be a fitting testament to the album.
Jimi Westbrook’s guitar-led “Rich Man” is definitely a hidden treasure. As being a song that was unreleased and unrecorded for the longest time, the song is the “most heartfelt, personal and special” he’s ever written. The track deals with “love of family and their role in laying the foundation that anchors [him].” Fairchild, who is also married to Westbrook in real life, compared the journey of the song to Miranda Lambert’s song “The House That Built Me.”. Comparably these songs took nearly a decade to complete; growth and love helped the tracks become what they are now.
In all, Little Big Town proved that they could make an album be just as powerful and relatable as their previous works and still be fresh and new with the influence of nostalgia. It truly fits with the album’s intent on reflection and growth between each band member.
Written by Gabrielle Thompson