Lady Antebellum, ‘On This Winter’s Night’ – Album Review
Lady Antebellum are practically built for Christmas albums. There’s a Captain and Tennille quality to their partnership that’s made hip by youth and intriguing subject matter. The trio’s take on standards like ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’ and ‘Silent Night’ are timeless, in that they could really be transported to any decade of country music. For them, covering yuletide hits is as easy as looking good.
‘On This Winter’s Night’ is the group’s Target-exclusive 2010 EP ‘A Merry Little Christmas’ plus six new traditional holiday hits. It’s like a BOGO EP, really — something that could be a little disappointing for fans who bought the first, but were unaware of the setup of this new “full-length” Christmas album.
Lady A take few risks on any of the 12 songs on ‘On This Winter’s Night.’ Only ‘Blue Christmas’ is a marked deviation from the original — fans of Elvis Presley will not approve of this spicy rendition– while others, like ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),’ are so predictable one can sing along effortlessly on first listen.
Vocally, Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood are as strong as ever. Their natural chemistry stoke coals in the fireplace, and they fit into one’s Christmas conversation as easily as a cup of hot chocolate or some spiced eggnog. The holidays are no time for grit, and these three are as smooth as Michael Buble or Burl Ives.
Musically, they fail to add the modern touches that mark the three studio albums they’ve released since 2008. There’s a Casio quality to songs like ‘This Christmas’ and ‘Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow.’ One begs for more fiddle.
‘On This Winter’s Night’ is the lone original cut, one co-written by the trio. A more cynical critic would wonder if the album isn’t just a way to make money from this cut, but that would ignore a beautiful collaboration between the band and a children’s choir. The title track is truly the album’s highlight — the star at the top of a tree filled with familiar ornaments.