Lady Antebellum, "Need You Now"

80 Billboard Rating

When Nashville-based Lady Antebellum won vocal group of the year at the 2009 Country Music Assn. Awards, it both ended Rascal Flatts' six-year reign in that category and accelerated the trio's journey into country music stardom. Indeed, Lady Antebellum's sophomore album, "Need You Now," will be a genre fixture this year. On the title track, the group's Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott harmonize on a melancholy tune about a bittersweet breakup and drunken yearning, and on "Love This Pain," Kelley shows off his vocal slyness and rough tenor with the accompaniment of lively guitar strings and pounding drums. And tracks like the riff-heavy, rock'n'roll romp "Stars Tonight" and the delicate arrangement of "Ready to Love Again" highlight the trio's musical growth. The new set-Lady A's follow-up to its self-titled debut in 2008-showcases the group's ability to combine its own contemporary country sound and folk-rock flair with a familiar formula, making it a refreshing addition to the ever-expanding country genre.

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