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Little Big Town releases new album, The Reason Why

There are few albums that conjure up the image of fields of sharp green grass wafting in a summer breeze, high on a hill with a little white church in half-shadow, children playing beyond a ring of women in simple dresses, singing hymns while setting out Sunday lunch.
Little Big Town’s latest effort The— Reason Why, which releases to the public Aug. 24 — is one of them.
This band, founded in 1998, has had the same four members since its inception: Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet. LBT is strong in one area that also conjures up a sweet image for me: harmony.
The quartet relies heavily on its harmony, with each singer taking turns at the lead, in a style reminiscent of the 1960s group the Mamas and the Papas. This works for Little Big Town – especially on The Reason Why, which harkens back to a simpler time: a gospel, bluegrass, country time. And a fun time.
The first single, “Little White Church,” was released in March and is a rocking hillbilly good time lauding the benefits of holding onto your milk until the cow is bought. Fairchild’s lead vocal is sexy and cocky, inviting with a streak of attitude – and there’s nothing wrong with a little clapping and rocking guitar.
“You Can’t Have Everything” is the best ballad on the album, starting out slow with an ole-timey feel, as does “All the Way Down.” A woman having a hushed conversation with her environment and lot in life while lying in bed is how I envision “Shut Up Train,” a personal and haunting example of the intimacy of a well-written and produced song.
Strong production and harmonies are apparent in the title track, “The Reason Why,” although this tune is lyrically weak: the “hey heys” become cloying and insistent and detract from the group’s harmonic hum. The same can be said for “Life Rolls On,” which “la la las” until I’m forced to click to the next song.
While LBT still has that pitch-perfect and pleasing harmony, The Reason Why feels a bit forced and flat at the same time. With such cult hits at “Boondocks,” “A Little More You” and “Bring It on Home” under their belt, this album should have been more like a choir building to the crescendo of a small-town revival on Saturday night, instead of a steady hum that recedes into the gloaming. But there are hymns to pick out and follow on The Reason Why – and the collection is worth the search.

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