Lady Antebellum - Oceans
Ah Lady A. We can rely on you guys to give us what we need when we need it. After a couple of years delving a bit more into the pop than the country, just when country music needed them Lady Antebellum are back doing their roots thing. Having toyed with a brass section on 2017's Heart Break they're very firmly back in their original country-pop-rock wheelhouse with Oceans and that is a very good thing.
Opening with one of the singles of the year ('What If I Never Get Over You') is a risky strategy as surely it's the best track on the record? Well yes, it is, but there is definitely more songwriting gold in them hills. 'Be Patient With My Love' is a gorgeous track, which feels as autobiographical as Charles Kelley has said it is, and while 'You Can Do You' is a lightweight song about being just being yourself, it does have a cracking tempo and danceable vibe. Two of the other pre-release singles are highlights as well, 'Pictures' captures reminiscing over a relationship perfectly, while 'Boots' is another of those mid-tempo country-rock songs that Lady Antebellum do so well.
The real highlights come near the end of the tracklist, with the title track a beautiful ode to love, Hilary Scott's voice taking the full weight and smashing it out of the park. Just before that comes 'The Thing That Wrecks You' (co-written by the terrific Tenille Townes, along with Daniel Tashian and Kate York), a duet with that other mega-group Little Big Town that somehow manages to shine with all seven singers getting involved.
Oceans is Lady Antebellum at the peak of their powers, it takes the country-rock trio of their 'Need You Now' days and melds that with the pop-leaning trio of their last record, Heart Break and makes one of the best mainstream country albums of 2019.