NYCS First Impression: Little Big Town ‘Nightfall’
For the better part of two decades, Little Big Town has been country music’s reigning super-group. Combining four distinctly powerful voices into one ethereal harmony has long been their piece de resistance. Nowhere is this more evident than on their ninth studio album, Nightfall, out today (Jan. 17).
The thirteen-track collection is an epic series that explores the highs and lows of life in a unique way. Self-produced by the foursome, along with Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian (Golden Hour), each song stands on its own as a musical masterpiece, but together, they make up what just might be Little Big Town’s best and most cohesive album yet. “This was a journey, and still is. Whether you’re going to the mountains, or the beach, even sitting in your living room with a glass of wine, this record is an experience,” Kimberly Schlapman reveals in a statement. “It will take you through so many places in life, hopefully sink in, and take you where you need to go, or give you what you’re looking to find.”
What’s most apparent on Nightfall is that the group shines as individual singers, each of them taking a chance at lead. However, the sum of their parts is even more powerful, their vocals soaring in a way that’s so uniquely Little Big Town. On this album, the lyrics and the vocals shine, complemented by the instrumentation rather than distracted by it. “It’s so easy to keep layering guitars on top of each other,” Jimi Westbrook says in a statement. “Every sound is intentional on this record. We’d empty tracks out to create more space. Those spaces let the energy come through. The space allows you to absorb what we’re saying.” This is evidenced on the dreamy “River of Stars,” with its twinkling instrumentation, as well as on “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” which features pulsating horns and drums in a way that is sure to soar in a live setting.
“Problem Child” is another musically magnificent moment of the album, featuring Westbrook’s voice soaring over a simple piano melody that then transcends into a full orchestral piece as the song builds. “Are you the black sheep?/ Have you been lonely?/ Out on the outside/ You’re not the only one,” he sings, his voice vulnerable and emotive. “What’s your problem, child?” Written by all four members of LBT with Sean McConnell and Tofer Brown, this is one of the album’s many standouts, tackling a seemingly taboo subject. Yet, they manage to do it in a way that’s beautiful, but still important.
The quartet also offers different takes on love lost on Nightfall, from the buoyant “Over Drinking” to the Pleasantville-esque situation of “Sugar Coat” to the what-could’ve been longing of “Questions” and lastly, the achingly beautiful “Trouble With Forever.” On “Questions, which she co-wrote with Jon Green and Sarah Haze, Fairchild finds herself wondering about the one that got away as she speaks those questions that she longs to ask. “I’ve got questions/ With no intention/ Of ever saying ’em out loud,” She wonders mournfully. “Did you give her/ My old key/ Am I anywhere in your memory?/ I can’t sleep/ It’s keeping me up tonight/ I’ve got questions.”
“Trouble With Forever,” written by Jason Saenz, Marc Beeson, and Haze, closes out Nightfall on an exquisitely bittersweet note. “We love how forever begins/ But the trouble with forever/ Is it always ends,” they harmonize. We won’t ruin the ending for you here, but make sure you have tissues on standby.
Of the project, Philip Sweet offers. “If people can open their hearts and just connect with music in a way that feeds them, makes them feel what they need or want to, then we got it.”
Sweet is absolutely right; they’ve got it. Nightfall is truly a majestic offering that transcends genre, making you feel and believe every word the quartet sings.
Nightfall Track List:
1. “Next to You” (Hillary Reynolds, Michael Jade, Trevor Jarvis)
2. “Nightfall” (Karen Fairchild, Daniel Tashian, Fancy Hagood)
3. “Forever and a Night” (Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook, Phillip Sweet, Foy Vance)
4. “Throw Your Love Away” (Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Hillary Lindsey, Liz Rose, Lori McKenna)
5. “Over Drinking” (Carey Barlowe, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley, Steph Jones, Hillary Lindsey)
6. “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook, Phillip Sweet, Sean McConnell, Tofer Brown)
7. “Questions” (Karen Fairchild, Jon Green, Sara Haze)
8. “The Daughters” (Karen Fairchild, Sean McConnell, Ashley Ray)
9. “River of Stars” (Karen Fairchild, Daniel Tashian, Ian Fitchuk)
10. “Sugar Coat” (Josh Kerr, Jordyn Shellhart, Lori McKenna)
11. “Problem Child” (Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook, Phillip Sweet, Sean McConnell, Tofer Brown)
12. “Bluebird” (Karen Fairchild, Daniel Tashian, Ian Fitchuk)
13. “Trouble With Forever” (Jason Saenz, Marc Beeson, Sara Haze)
NYCountry Swag Picks:
2. Trouble with Forever
4. Problem Child
In support of Nightfall, Little Big Town will kick off their Nightfall Tour in New York City tonight (January 17) and tomorrow at the legendary Apollo Theater. They played an exclusive album release show yesterday at Carnegie Hall. For more tour dates and tickets, make sure to check out their official website.
To keep up with Little Big Town, follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Nightfall is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.
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