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Little Big Town

Nightfall – 2020 (Capitol)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Little Big Town

Little Big Town gets billed as a country music vocal group, but "Nightfall" plays out more like a four-headed singer-songwriter effort. Many of these songs hearken back to some of the best '70s introspective songwriter efforts. The album opens with "Next to You," which builds from a gentle meditation, into a full-on anthemic ode to the comfort and strength of fidelity.

"Questions" interestingly finds an ex asking questions via song lyrics, which she can never pose face-to-face. The best of these musical internal conversations is titled "Sugar Coat." Not surprisingly, Lori McKenna is one of its writers and one of our greatest unsung singer-songwriters. It's sung from the perspective of one who desperately wishes she could turn to a vice, like drinking or taking pills, to mask the pain of a breakup. She can't, though. It just wouldn't be her to engage in these socially unacceptable behaviors. Instead, she puts on a brave face and sugars her words, even though she'd like to tell her ex just to go to hell. It's a powerful statement and speaks for many of us. We'd love to spout blatant truth, and let the chips fall where they may. But, like her, we never will.

About midway through, the album includes a couple of wildly varying drinking song. "Over Drinking" admits to drinking after a breakup, but this drinking is not engaged in to help get over that breakup; instead, this drinker has other, better reasons to drink. "Wine, Beer, Whiskey" is more of a throwaway song, which personifies different alcoholic beverages in a playful way, and even includes a partying brass horn section part.

Although "The Daughters" with its social commentary is relevant in our current #metoo era, "River Of Stars" due to its shimmering instrumental arrangement and drop-dead gorgeous vocals, is far more affecting. LBT may be using their platform to make a statement, but they are - after all - a vocal group, and this latter song spotlights Little Big Town doing what they do best.

"Nightfall" is not an especially twangy effort, save for steel guitar, which pokes its head in now and again. However, its memorable songs, fine harmonic vocals and quality consistency make "Nightfall" one pretty good night.