Little Big Town 'Pain Killer' - Capitol Records

This is the sixth release from contemporary country artists Little Big Town. Production credits go to Jay Joyce who has worked with Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin and Eric Church among many others. He brings a big panoramic sound to the thirteen songs included here, with bright arrangements and dynamic four-part harmonies from the band.

Little Big Town has forged a strong reputation on their work ethic since recording their debut release in 2002. Regular touring to promote their music has seen them reach ever increasing audiences over the years and they were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry earlier this year by Vince Gill, at the invitation of Reba McEntire.

Their unique signature is in their vocal delivery, with no lead singer, preferring to have the songs feature any one of the four members, or all four in varying combinations. They have been compared to Fleetwood Mac previously and there are similarities in the melodies and song structures. Working with Lindsey Buckingham has probably helped the comparison, plus they do a few live cover versions of Mac songs.

However, in an overcrowded arena of contemporary country artists, Little Big Town continue to punch above their weight and songs like Live Forever, Pain Killer, Tumble & Fall and Save Your Sin give them an edge over the opposition. Things You Don’t Think About is a sassy song with plenty of attitude and Turn the Lights On does nod in the direction of Fleetwood Mac. Radio friendly tunes played with panache and plenty of passion.

Little Big Town 'Tornado' - HumpHead

This album is the first time I gave an ear to Little Big Town. When I first heard their name, I thought they were Bluegrass, discovered they weren’t and left them by the wayside. Big mistake on my part. This is another CD that is outside my normal listening comfort zone and I approached it with caution. I didn’t need to worry, tight four part harmonies with traces of Fleetwood Mac, CSNY, Everly Brothers and even the spine tingling Prelude from the early eighties. All in all very easy on the ear.

It’s not country as we would like it but in these days of genre crossings it does fit very comfortably into a well produced soft country rock vibe. The opening track “Pavement Ends” tempts you in with a very cool banjo and drum mix that sets the pace for all that follows.

LBT are an equal opportunity four part harmony band with no accredited lead singer and the liner notes don’t give you any clues in this direction either. So only the die-hard fans will know who is taking the lead honours. Not that it matters, as the sound is so professional that there is a seamless drift of solo, duet, trio and quartet from track to track and even in individual tracks giving each song a little mystique along the way.

Writing duties are shared by band members, a good sprinkling of rising star Natalie Henby co-writes and includes some of my favourites touring band member in Jedd Hughes, Chris Stapleton and Lori McKenna. Not a bad line up that gives a great mix from the almost bluegrassy blues feel of Front Porch Thing through the Fleetwood Mac styled On Fire Tonight and finishes excellently for me with a single guitar and the tastiest Everlyesque tight harmonies of Night Owl.

This is an album that has me reaching into the archives for a bit more research on this fine band and for the genre police, it ain’t honky tonk but I don’t think that Little Big Town ever intended it to be.