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Album Review

Sometimes love lasts. And when it does, it's pretty fantastic. More often, though, Lady Antebellum insists on the pop-country band's third effort, Own the Night, it doesn't. And all we're left with are wistful, misty-eyed sentiments set to the strumming strains of moody mandolins and lap steel guitars.

That's how I'd summarize these 12 songs. Sunny moments of breathless infatuation frequently eclipsed by yearning, regret and longing for what might have been—in perfectly polished, three-part, radio-friendly harmony, naturally.

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Pro-social Content

Three tracks splash about in undiluted romantic giddiness. A newly married husband relishes the presence of his bride as they drive away from the ceremony ("Tin cans rattlin' pavement/Confetti scattered everywhere/She falls asleep in the seat beside me"). Then he promises her, "You'll never not be my girl/'Cause love is the heart of the world." The song references both God and heaven too ("Hope is the soul of the dreamer/And heaven is the home of my God/It only takes one true believer/To believe you can still beat the odds").

In similarly sappy (but still spiritual) territory, "Love I've Found in You" thanks God for answering a woman's prayers for a partner ("We'll, I wonder where I'd be if the Lord hadn't heard my prayer/The one I said every night till the day that you got here"). Elsewhere in that song, a guy says life with his lady is much better than spending a night on the town with his drinking buddies. On "Somewhere Love Remains," a couple on the verge of calling it quits considers giving their relationship one last shot.

"Just a Kiss" mostly advocates not rushing into physical intimacy. "It's so hard to hold back when I'm holding you in my arms," we hear in the second verse. "But we don't need to rush this/Let's just take it slow." And taking it slow, according to the chorus, means sharing a kiss and nothing more: "Just a kiss on your lips in the moonlight/ … So, baby, I'm all right/With just a kiss good night." The song also advocates letting love blossom in it's own time ("I know that if we give this a little time/It'll only bring us closer to the love we wanna find").

Objectionable Content

For all that restraint, however, the opening lines of "Just a Kiss" put the couple in the middle of too much temptation: "Lying here with you so close to me/It's hard to fight these feelings when it feels so hard to breathe." "We Owned the Night" reminisces about two lovers' physical passion ("We woke under a blanket/All tangled up in skin") even though they don't stay together ("Not knowing in that moment/We'd never speak again").

While there's no breakup on "Singing Me Home," there is building anticipation for intimacy as a couple in a car hears a song about making love ("The song on the radio/Is talking about the love we make/I know just what she's thinking") and looks forward to doing the same ("When we get together/The love we make together/It blows my mind/Every time we touch/Oh, I can't get enough"). "Somewhere Love Remains" begs a partner who's about to leave to "think of all the love we've made."

Summary Advisory

Lady Antebellum loves to dabble in twitterpation and sensuality. And in the case of the latter, they do so a bit more explicitly than fans heard on 2010's Grammy-winning Need You Now.

But love and lust aren't really this album's main focal points. That honor goes to loss. And there's plenty of it here—six songs full of melancholy keening about relationships that didn't make the trip, to be precise.

Commendably, these snapshots of romantic dissolution don't descend into bitterness or recrimination. Instead there's just separation and sadness and "What if?" daydreams. Still, I can't help but think that this collection of sad, sometimes sensual, only occasionally optimistic tunes may not be the best "How do ya do?" for the band's many new fans now that Lady Antebellum's the queen of the country ball.

Plot Summary

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Record Label

Capitol Records Nashville




September 13, 2011

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Adam R. Holz

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