After losing steam trying to create a worthy follow up to the seminal hit “Need You Now,” Nashville’s multi-Grammy-winning Lady Antebellum returns with a vengeance on the plucky threesome’s fourth release, Golden. For a brief instant, Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood seemed destined to become victims of mega success and overexposure (particularly after the release of 2011’s uninspired Own the Night), but one listen to Golden immediately declares that Lady A has returned to form and isn’t going anywhere in the imaginable future.
Armed with the summery first hit single “Downtown” and the superb mid-tempo follow up “Goodbye Town,” Lady A sounds refocused and more determined than ever to reclaim the country spotlight. Golden plainly illustrates how each of the members has come into their own as songwriters. All but four (most notably the arresting “It Ain’t Pretty,” written by newcomer Nicolle Galyon and hit maker Eric Paslay) of the album’s 12 tracks were co-penned by the band members themselves.
The true magic of Golden lies in the album’s ability to balance the subtle sadness of “Can’t Stand the Rain” (“I don’t know where the road you’re on is gonna end up/Or what this crazy world will put you through”) with the blatant longing of opening track “Get to Me” (“Don’t hit the brakes just come and crash through my horizon/Bring back the air I need to breathe”), which includes a markedly potent vocal performance from Scott. Imparting honest lyrics with spot-on harmonies swathed in infectious melodies, Golden is ultimately a shining example of what Lady Antebellum does best. With its seamless mingling of poignant ballads and upbeat tunes, It’s a stone cold winner from country music’s top trio.