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 was produced by Paul Worley, a longtime Music City fixture who truly made his reputation producing the Dixie Chicks, but there's no hint of the rowdiness that punctuated even the Chicks' glossiest work.
There was an overarching sense of foreboding, an at times almost Gothic (at least for them) mood, to Lady Antebellum ‘s 2011 album Own the Night. If it was a Fall/Winter album, then their follow-up Golden is a Spring/Summer album; bright in tone. The opening number “Get to Me” sets a relaxed, sunkissed tone, musically, though Hillary Scott’s singing still carries a fair amount of desperation.
Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood’s 2008 debut had a freshness and immediacy — a melding of country, Southern rock undertones, pop, and distinctive harmonies — that marked Lady Antebellum as ones to watch. And indeed their subsequent releases vaulted them to multiplatinum, award-winning success thanks to hits like “Need You Now” and “Just a Kiss.” But those records also took an occasional detour into glossy, adult contemporary snooze-ville. “Golden’’ puts some welcome bite back into the proceedings with a more minimalist approach to production and a more substantive approach to the lyrics, which gives the whole album a crisper, more present feeling.