REVIEW BY SAM GNERRE
Southern California News Group
Little Big Town’s eighth album, “The Breaker,” won’t quiet those who want to typecast the Alabama-based outfit as being country’s answer to Fleetwood Mac.
The quartet — Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook and Philip Sweet — combine voices to form impeccable harmonies, and the band’s music nestles itself on the poppiest end of the country spectrum.
If that sounds like a complaint, it isn’t. Harmony-laden gems such as “Happy People” abound on “The Breaker,” and most of them probably will top the country charts over the next few months.
But the album also contains several standout ballads. “Better Man” has garnered the most attention, having been written by Taylor Swift. Fairchild, who sings most of the female leads, opts to express more regret than anger in her interpretation, transforming the song into more than just another Swift-dissing-an-old-beau number.
“Don’t Die Young, Don’t Get Old” adds finger-snaps and a low-key mandolin to its spare, shimmering arrangement, and Fairchild’s delicate vocal brings a haunting quality to the song’ memorable chorus.
Phillip Sweet takes the lead on the stunning ballad, “When Someone Stops Loving You,” another track where less is so much more. Sweet’s plaintive vocal, supported by little more than an echoed electric guitar and subtle organ fills, turns the song into a lovelorn tour de force.
The band shows less individuality on the uptempo tunes such as “Rollin’ “ and “Drivin’ Around.” They’re pleasant enough, but it’s the more atmospheric moments that make “The Breaker.”
Little Big Town are touring, but have not announced any Southern California dates as yet.
Contact Sam Gnerre at firstname.lastname@example.org or @samgnerre on Twitter.