Recording information: Ocean Way, Nashville, TN; Shabby Row; Sound Stage Studios; The Warner Studios, Nashville, TN.
Photographer: Joseph Llanes.
Lady Antebellum's heart and soul belong to Nashville, the place where dreams are packaged, polished, and sold. The trio, led equally by vocalists Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley, and rounded out by by jack-of-all-trades instrumentalist Dave Haywood, are designed to appeal to the largest possible audience and, as such, they're smart enough to not mess with a winning formula, choosing only to sweeten it on their fourth album, Golden. Like the other three (along with their 2012 holiday stopgap On This Winter's Night), Golden is produced by Paul Worley, a longtime Music City fixture who truly made his reputation producing Dixie Chicks, but there's no hint of the rowdiness that punctuated even the Chicks' glossiest work. Instead, this is all shimmering and slick, more of an adult contemporary pop album than a country record. Apart from the intro of "Get to Me," there's nary a hint of twang here, the tempos never escalate -- the sprightliest number is the bouncy, effervescent "Downtown"; the most insistent is the rocking "Better Off Now (That You're Gone)," whose loudness fades once the verse kicks in -- and the whole vibe is irrepressibly friendly, best heard on quietly insistent pieces of pop like "Can't Stand the Rain." So cheerful is Golden that it seems a little churlish to complain that the songs here aren't grabbers: they're slow burns, designed to sink into the subconscious through repeated plays on radio, in-store sound systems, waiting rooms, and bumper music. And that's fine: it's professional product at its finest, meticulously assembled, polished until it gleams, designed to be nothing more than thoroughly agreeable. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Billboard (p.39) - "[T]he country trio's rendition of Will Hoge's 'Better Off Now (That You're Gone)' unleashes a rocking spirit."