Little Big Town: ‘Mr. Sun’ – Album Review
Little Big Town’s brand new album, Mr. Sun is out now, September 16th on all streaming platforms. Take a listen and read our full review below.
In January 2020, Little Big Town released their stellar album, Nightfall. The foursome then kicked off a tour at New York’s Carnegie Hall and the famous Apollo Theater, and then… the world shut down.
Now, two and a half years later, the group responsible for the best vocal harmonies in country music are back with something that manages to be both different yet familiar.
Featuring sixteen new tracks, the group’s tenth studio album, Mr. Sun, was self-produced by the fantastic four members of Little Big Town. It features thirteen tracks co-written by at least one member of the band, and a total of 33 songwriters, including Sara Buxton, Tyler Hubbard, Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Liz Rose, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne, and many more.
Written predominantly during the pandemic, Mr. Sun shows Little Big Town at its absolute best. They sample new sounds while remaining true to the vocal harmonies that have endeared them to fans for over their twenty year career, allowing oft-frontwoman Karen Fairchild to shine, but they also provide moments for each other band member to have a moment in the spotlight. They provide a stellar mix of radio-ready tracks with deeper cuts full of melody and meaning.
That clever juxtaposition of tracks happens almost immediately, the album kicking off with the previously-released “All Summer,” “Better Love,” and “Hell Yeah,” before transitioning into more poignant moments on “Mr. Sun” and “Three Whiskeys and the Truth.”
“All Summer” is a blistering ode to summer love, led by Karen Fairchild’s sultry vocals over an almost 70’s-inspired melody, while “Better Love” is a smooth mid-tempo that finds her with no regrets over a failed relationship, but looking for something better next time around. These lead directly into the cleverly phrased “Hell Yeah,” which allows Philip Sweet to take the lead.
“Hell yeah, I go get drunk on Friday nights // Hell yeah, I’m dancing under neon lights // Hell yeah, I’m smiling so that you can’t tell // But if you’re ever wondering, baby if I’m still // Going through hell, yeah // Going through hell, yeah // You’ve moved on and I’m still here in hell, yeah”
Jimi Westbrook is frontman on “Mr. Sun,” which one would assume might be a party song from the title, but is actually the total opposite. In fact, the song offers a clever nod at the Bill Withers classic, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” with Westbrook crooning, “You don’t need to shine, ‘cause she’s gone away.” On the somber R&B-tinted tune, the soulful singer shines his brightest, despite being in the mood for “something dark and stormy.”
Heartbreak may be where LBT shines brightest, allowing mournful harmonies to set the mood on tracks like “Three Whiskeys and the Truth” and “One More Song,” On the latter, Fairchild and Westbrook deal with a breakup, trading verses in the vein of one of the band’s most underrated songs, “Your Side of the Bed.” Meanwhile, on the former, Fairchild’s smoky voice tells the heart-wrenching time of love lost, nearly breaking with emotion on the second-half of the song. “Takes every bit of the time that I’m killing // My heart hesitates but the pain’s always willing,” She admits. “There ain’t no lying // Baby I’m missing you // Three whiskeys and the truth.”
It’s not all stormy weather on Mr. Sun, as the breezy and Abba-inspired “Heaven Had a Dance Floor” finds Kimberley Schlapman channeling her inner disco queen. Likewise, “Whiskey Colored Eyes” has an almost Eagles-like feel, elevated by the foursome’s harmonies. Finally, the sass-meter is turned up to ten on “Song Back,” an 80’s groove-inspired song about a song ruined by the end of a relationship. “If you’re gonna play me like that,” Fairchild scorches. “I want my song back.”
The later half of the album focuses heavily on reflection, with songs like “Rich Man,” “God Fearing Gypsies,” “Last Day on Earth,” and the album’s final track, “Friends of Mine.”
“Rich Man” offers a poignant moment of reflection, as they grapple with the fact that one can be wealthy “without a lick of money.”
“Yeah, in my soul, one thing I know // I ain’t lookin’ for a pot of gold // That ain’t what this life means to me // I keep my head up high, feet on the ground // Love the ones I’m livin’ ’round // Life is just that simple to me // Yeah, I’m a rich man”
Additionally, “God Fearing Gypsies” finds the quartet slowing things down for another introspective moment on the harmonic highlight. The song is led by Westbrook, but soars with the patented harmonies that make LBT the best vocal group in music today. “Long live the God-fearing gypsies,” They sing, “Who live as hard as they pray.”
“Last Day on Earth” is a sparse and folksy ballad that has the foursome harmonizing without a clear lead vocalist, showing them at their absolute best. In fact, we can already picture all four members of LBT highlighting this track with their voices, a spotlight, and a guitar, during an acoustic section of their live shows.
Finally, “Friends of Mine” is one of the album’s most moving moments, almost sounding as a message to their fans and to each other. On the soulful, Gospel-tinged tune, they tackle the uncertainty of the world we live in, offering a moment of hope in the darkness. “Everyone knows that in life sometimes, the wind blows the rain in your eyes,” They sing. “It’s a crazy world // we’re all trying to live in // We all feel alone and afraid…“We all need each other to get through the darkest of times.”
As one of country music’s most consistent band of music-makers, Little Big Town continues to shine on Mr. Sun, offering listeners a bright spot through even the darkest of days.
Little Big Town – Mr. Sun Track List:
- All Summer (Karen Fairchild, Sarah Buxton, Madi Diaz, Ashley Ray, Savana Santos, Alysa Vanderheym)
- Better Love (Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook, Tofer Brown, Audra Mae)
- Hell Yeah (Phillip Sweet, Jimi Westbrook, Corey Crowder, Tyler Hubbard)
- Mr. Sun (Sarah Buxton, Daniel Tashian)
- Three Whiskeys and the Truth (Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Liz Rose)
- One More Song (Tofer Brown, Sean McConnell)
- Heaven Had a Dance Floor (Karen Fairchild, Phillip Sweet, Jimi Westbrook, Cary Barlowe, Jesse Frasure)
- Gold (Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook, Trent Dabbs, Luke Dick)
- Rich Man (Jimi Westbrook)
- God Fearing Gypsies (Karen Fairchild, Nicolette Hayford, Ashley Ray)
- Different Without You (Corey Crowder, Jared Mullins, Steven Lee Olsen, Jordan Schmidt)
- Whiskey Colored Eyes (Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet, Jimi Westbrook, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne)
- Song Back (Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook, Todd Clark, Sara Haze, Jason Saenz)
- Something Strong (Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Liz Rose)
- Last Day On Earth (Karen Fairchild, Trent Dabbs, Tommy English)
- Friends of Mine (Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet, Jimi Westbrook, Foy Vance)
Country Swag Picks:
- God Fearing Gypsies
- Song Back
- Friends of Mine
- Better Love
- Hell Yeah
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Mr. Sun is available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released tunes on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.