Little Big Town
Country vocal quartet Little Big Town began with Kimberly Roads and Karen Fairchild, two Georgia natives who began singing together in college. Arkansas-born and Alabama-raised Jimi Westbrook, a friend of Fairchild's husband, joined them to make a trio, and the group was completed by the addition of Arkansan Phil Sweet in 1998. From the outset, Little Big Town devoted their sound to harmony and multiple lead vocals, a combination that made the band a hard sell at first. They finally landed a deal at Mercury Records, but it fell through due to disagreements about musical direction. In the wake of the success of the Dixie Chicks, however, Little Big Town suddenly seemed a more likely commercial proposition, and they were taken up by the Dixie Chicks' label, Monument Records, in 2000. Recording sessions lasted longer than usual for a country release, but Monument finally issued the band's debut single, "Don't Waste My Time," in the winter of 2002. The song was on its way up the charts when its accompanying album, Little Big Town, arrived in May. Although the debut produced several minor hits, Little Big Town didn't become a superstar act until 2005, when The Road to Here yielded four Top 20 singles (including the ballad "Bring It on Home") and earned the group its first platinum record. A Place to Land followed in 2007 and netted three singles, none of which made it into the Top 30, but the band's profile continued to grow due to incessant touring and supporting acts from Sugarland to Carrie Underwood. Fairchild also guested with John Mellencamp on his album Life Death Love and Freedom. In May of 2010 "Little White Church" appeared as a single that peaked at number 14 on the Billboard country chart; in August of that year, Little Big Town's fourth studio album, The Reason Why, was released by Capitol. The band returned in 2012 with the single "Pontoon," which wound up topping Billboard's country chart. The band's fifth full-length album, Tornado, followed in September 2012. It was their first release to be produced by ex-In Pursuit member Jay Joyce, and it became their highest-placed album on the Billboard 200 up to that point, reaching number two. Joyce was retained for their next album's sessions and the resulting record, Pain Killer, appeared in October 2014, preceded by the single "Day Drinking." That single went to four on Billboard's Hot Country chart but it was soon overshadowed by the ballad "Girl Crush," which topped the Hot Country chart and crossed over into the pop Top 20 on its way toward winning two Grammy Awards in 2015. Little Big Town capitalized on this crossover by collaborating with Pharrell Williams for Wanderlust, a brief album that appeared upon short notice in June 2016. Little Big Town returned to country in early 2017 with The Breaker, an album that was preceded by the Taylor Swift-written single "Better Man." ~ William Ruhlmann
22 albums sorted by Most acclaimed
Narrow my search
Blues/Country/Folk - Released May 21, 2002 | Monument
Little Big Town is a vocal quartet consisting of two men and two women who sing their songs by mixing up lead vocals and harmonies, such that one may start a song only to have another take the second verse, while some other combination sings the choruses. This, of course, is not typical of country music, nor are the song arrangements, which lean heavily to a folk-rock sound with prominent acoustic guitars and rhythm section, but only touches of fiddle and steel guitar; nor, for that matter, are the songs themselves, most of them written by the group members, which tend toward a pop sensibility with their generalized romantic sentiments. In the inevitable game of describing a new act by its antecedents, one must throw out names like Fleetwood Mac rather than any specifically country artists. Actually, Little Big Town does call to mind certain country acts of the past, though not prominent ones. They may remind knowledgeable country fans of such late-'80s performers as Foster & Lloyd and Kennedy Rose, duos that earned critical kudos (especially from non-country critics), but struggled to earn a commercial footing and ultimately found greater success behind the scenes as writers. Championed by Monument Records, the same label that changed the parameters of conventional country success with the Dixie Chicks, Little Big Town may succeed by re-writing the Nashville rule book in a similar way. But probably not. The Dixie Chicks had great songs, a powerful image, and an undeniable connection to hardcore country. Little Big Town does not have great songs, their image is diffuse, and they seem ready to cross over to pop at any minute. At least on their first album, the group is more a concept than a fully formed entity, which will make revolutionizing country music a challenge. ~ William Ruhlmann
Country - Released February 24, 2017 | CAPITOL
Rebounding from the Pharrell Williams-produced detour of 2016 -- the mini-LP Wanderlust, which seemed to be commercially abandoned as soon as it was released -- Little Big Town get back to basics on The Breaker, the de facto sequel to their 2014 blockbuster Pain Killer. That album was anchored on "Girl Crush," a smoldering slow-burner that crossed over into the pop charts because it sounded more Southern Californian than Southern, and the same could be said for The Breaker. Here, the quartet double down on soft rock and supple harmonies, sounding like a 21st century revival of Fleetwood Mac, albeit one without the roiling internal tension. Smoothness is a selling point with Little Big Town: their melodies slide, their harmonies glide, their music seems utterly at peace with the moment. Sometimes, the group kicks up the aggression -- "Drivin' Around" and "Rollin'," two songs that give away the game with their titles, feel designed to fill out arenas -- but for the most part, The Breaker shimmers sweetly, alternating between sculpted sweetness and folky introspection. Often, the latter trumps the former -- "Better Man," a song written by Taylor Swift that feels like a throwback to Fearless, exists in a middle ground between these two extremes -- but that's also the appeal of The Breaker: it's a confident pop record, one that celebrates sound as much as song. In some respects, Little Big Town no longer feel like a country band -- this, more than the blatant overtures of Wanderlust, seems like a bid for adult alternative airplay, simply because it sticks to the middle of the road -- but that's also their strength. Little Big Town cherish the gentler moments, and this ease with sensitivity turns The Breaker into something of a quiet triumph: it's intended as a balm, and it succeeds. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Country - Released June 10, 2016 | CAPITOL
Appearing without warning on June 10, 2016, Wanderlust is the sequel to Pain Killer, one of Little Big Town's biggest hits, but the album appears almost like an afterthought. Part of this is due to the lack of promotion -- apart from an interview with Billboard, there was no press -- but the eight-track record barely clocks in at 26 minutes, a length benefiting an EP, not a full album. Maybe that's what Wanderlust is: a palette-cleansing mini-LP, something not designed as a sequel to a blockbuster, but making things stranger still is how it's a collaboration with superstar R&B producer Pharrell Williams, who also brought in his longtime collaborator Chad Hugo to co-produce the eight tracks and recruited Justin Timberlake to co-write "C'mon," which also features his vocals. No matter how high "Girl Crush" placed in the charts in 2015 -- and it went to 18 on Billboard's Hot 100 on the way to picking up two Grammy Awards -- it in no way paved the way for a fusion of LBT's sensibilities and Pharrell's production, a combination that theoretically seems like a crossover but doesn't play that way in execution. Take "The Boat," a piece of minor-key soft rock that evokes memories of yacht rockers America, but Pharrell cuts up the rhythms and vocals so they percolate, a sound that's bracing but is neither pop nor country. Occasionally, one side of the equation is pushed harder than the other: tracks that lean toward Williams' wheelhouse, "Miracle" is glitzy as a glitter ball and "One Dance" ratchets up the rhythmic tension; "One of Those Days" tips its hat to LBT's "Day Drinking," "Work" recycles the cod reggae bounce of "Pain Killer," and "Skinny Dippin'" is a sequel to "Pontoon." Every one of these songs is lively and a little clever, relying on both Little Big Town's strengths and those of Pharrell, so it's a genuine hybrid, which is an achievement even if it doesn't necessarily guarantee an audience for the album; after all, the Venn diagram of the audiences for the two artists doesn't amount to much more than a sliver. But that's the appealing and bewildering thing about Wanderlust: it belongs to no country; it exists on its own island. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
News feed Prev. Next
Wed Qobuz | Liam goes soloTue Qobuz | Kamasi at the museum!
Mon Qobuz | From Lucky to JimmyMon Qobuz | Ayre QX-5 Twenty: A Qobuzism for this network player with exceptional sound performances and the mconnect control application integrating Qobuz in Hi-Res!Sun Qobuz | Planet Ibeyi
Sat Qobuz | A Qobozissime for the Arod Quartet!Thu Qobuz | Digital audio players and QobuzThu Qobuz | Cécile McLorin Salvant, live!
Wed Qobuz | Arcam Solo Music: A Qobuzism for this all-in-one system integrating Qobuz in Hi-Res and delivering a beautiful sound!Wed Qobuz | Tom Petty, heart breakerTue Qobuz | Metz, straight to the point