CD Review: Little Big Town – The Breaker

Little Big Town – The
Breaker (Album Review)
Release Date: 24 February 2017
Title: The Breaker
Label: Decca / Liberty Records)
12 Tracks/ Time: 41:43
Rating: 3 STARS out of 5
1. Happy People 2. Night on Our Side 3. Lost in
California 4. Free 5. Drivin’ Around
6. We Went to the Beach 7. Better Man 8. Rollin’ 9. Don’t
Die Young, Don’t Get Old
10. Beat Up Bible 11. When Someone Stops Loving You 12.
The Breaker
year the chart managers quite rightly deemed 
Little Big Town’s electronic diversion set WANDERLUST (Capitol
Nashville) not to be classed as “country”. It arrived at No.105 on the
Billboard 200 and #50 Top Albums with 5,700 pure sales. Instead of releasing a
straight-up country/rock record, LBT dropped the collaborative project with Pharrell Williams. Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild
said “The music feels like our worlds have collided in the best possible way –
his infectious grooves paired with our layered vocals and harmonies. This music
is meant to be danced to, sung along with and turned up loud. It’s uplifting
and hopeful”.
to that their last “country” album
(Capitol Nashville/UMGN) made a bow and
peaked at No.7 on the Billboard 200 and #3
on Top Country albums Country) with 42,000 copies sold on its debut week.
This was well short of the September 11, 2012
release of
bowed with 112,800 copies sold. Painkiller was fuelled by the lead-off single “Day Drinking” becoming the group’s sixth top 10 (#4 Billboard
Country Airplay) and then the #1 smash hit “Girl
” (writers Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey and Liz Rose) which snagged
CMA Song and Single of the year in 2015 propelling the 4-piece group to
So, is THE BREAKER a genuine
return to country? Well, there is little for the traditional country music fan
to grab onto with the 12-track offering mostly reaching out to millennials.
The album kicks off with the
chug-along bouncy opener “Happy People” written by top singer
Lori McKenna and Hailey Whitters. The track
with its purring Hammond interspersed with some faint steel smoothly rolls out
some golden rules, as to how to put smiles on faces
and finding true happiness. An art which is something to be cherished, learned
and embraced in an ever-cruel and hurtful world: Here’s to whatever what puts a smile on your face, Whatever makes you
happy, people
on Our Side
” co-written by LBT members Phillip Sweet and Jimi
Westbrook is something which forestalls that “we might live forever for a little while tonight” whilst bending
the rules till dawn breaks. The Pop/Rock number is something like a hark back
to the “Rumours”-era Fleetwood Mac underpinned with acoustic vibes of
Christopher Cross’ “Sailing”
The wild abandon of the dreamy “Lost in
” penned by A-list hit songwriters Hillary Lindsey,
Lori McKenna and Liz Rose
some pretty colours and highlights Little Big Town’s key strength – those close
harmonies. Those skills are magnified on the nostalgic driven “Free
which celebrates that the best things in life can’t be bought and are hard won.
Pointing its compass
to a stadium rock crowd “Drivin’ Around” penned by four
outside writers, is rather muddied production wise laced with very modern digital sweetening and editing enrichment techniques.
reflective “We Went to the Beach” has a pleasant laid back breezy feel
recalling happy summer days. Lead-off single
” penned by Taylor Swift remains the album go-to standout and
landed them a No.1 straight out of the blocks. A song which at first I had some
reservations on, perfectly suits Karen Fairchild’s vocal and just grows and
grows on you – I just love it!
guitar-driven “Rollin’ is a very rocky affair and musically hardly recalls a roadblock paradise, though stars in the
sky shine brightly on another wistful number “Don’t Die Young, Don’t Get Old“.
It’s not
until the journey to track 10 when you feel the multi-award winning group truly
begin to get back to their country roots. Kimberly Schlapman takes the lead
vocal baton on the gentle acoustic driven “Beat Up Bible” where every line in
the worn and dusty manuscript offers comfort and recalls precious memories.
Jimi Westbrook’s vocals take centre stage on the
heart-breaking “When Someone Stops Loving You,” which rocks some soulful vibes
where no switch can be flicked when struggling to get over a deep relationship
and move on from a man’s perspective. In a reversal of roles on title cut and
gentle paced album closer “The Breaker” (Jimi Westbrook
lead vocal) is full of honest regret where no words can paper over those
hurtful cracks depicting a sad tale of love gone wrong:
I wish I could give
you what you needed, But you can’t tell a heart how to feel, but I’ve tried to
Whilst Breaker offers those trademark classy
LBT vocal harmonies and radio-friendly modern-country cuts it perhaps overall
embraces a little too many elements of pop and rock.
Clark for Country Music News International

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