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Picks and Pans Main: Music

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Lady Antebellum

Golden |


Lady Antebellum may have won Grammys for their last two albums (2010’s Need You Now and 2011’s Own the Night), but this, their fifth full-lengther, takes the gold as their best yet. Golden radiates a soft-rock shimmer that is more ’70s California than old-school Nashville. (No matter, country purists gave up on them a long time ago.) Songs like “Better Off Now (That You’re Gone),” a breezy, harmony-sweetened kiss-off led by Charles Kelley, cast Lady A as Music City’s answer to Fleetwood Mac—minus the intergroup romantic drama. Elsewhere, two other Kelley showcases take you back to AM’s glory days: the tender title tune, which brings to mind the gentle folk beauty of Dan Fogelberg, and “Better Man,” a lilting, mandolin-laced nod to James Taylor. But the trio also give props to the ’80s: The wistful “Goodbye Town” boasts echoes of U2, while another nostalgic spin, the Hillary Scott-fronted “Long Teenage Goodbye,” feels like Bryan Adams’s “Summer of ’69” twanged up for the summer of ’13.


Natalie Maines

Mother |


It may be her first solo album, but Dixie Chick Natalie Maines still revels in the spirit of collaboration. She’s just found herself a Dixie Dude instead: Ben Harper, who produced Mother with Maines, appears on every cut (as guitarist, vocalist and percussionist) and had a hand in writing three of the four new songs (including their bluesy duet “Trained”). Six other tracks are covers, from the Pink Floyd title tune to a killer rendition of Jeff Buckley’s “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over.” Although the mix is a bit random, it gives Maines a chance to brandish a decided rock edge—even when the song (“Come Cryin’ to Me”) was originally intended for Dixie Chicks.