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Lady Antebellum Went ‘Back to the Basics’ for ‘Heart Break’

Lady Antebellum
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

On June 9, Lady Antebellum will release Heart Break, their first album in almost three years (their sixth overall). While the trio’s latest offering will certainly highlight the creative evolution of a band that has spent almost a decade forging new paths in country music, its creation actually came from the band’s desire to look back and “get back to the basics” of their music. And for Charles Kelley, Dave Haywood and Hillary Scott, that meant focusing on one thing: songwriting.

“We consider ourselves songwriters first, and I think all but two songs on this record we wrote,” Kelley told fans at a Facebook Live event on Thursday night (Jan. 19). During the event, which The Boot attended, Lady A talked with fans and media about the making of Heart Break and played a few tracks from the new album.

“One of the things that we really wanted to do was not write on the road in between touring,” Kelley says. “We needed to get back — live in a house together and get back to the basics like we did when we wrote the first two records.”

That Lady A seem to be aiming for the same experience as their first two records is particularly exciting, considering the immense talent and unique chemistry captured on Lady Antebellum and Need You Now. The band’s eponymous first album, released in 2008, made Lady A the first country group to have their debut album debut at No. 1 on the country charts, and 2010’s Need You Now won the trio their first Grammy for Best Country Album. With most of the songs on both those early records written by the band members themselves, Kelly, Haywood and Scott knew the only way to recreate that magic was to stop what they were doing and focus on writing — and being — together.

That meant leaving their families and trekking out to Los Angeles for some uninterrupted time to be inspired, write and record. Free from the responsibilities of home (“Thank God our families let us do this!” Kelley exclaimed), Lady Antebellum spent their weeks in LA enjoying life together and writing what would become Heart Break. Haywood cooked breakfast and dinner most days (fans can catch a glimpse of Lady A’s West Coast life in the lyric video for Heart Break’s first single, “You Look Good“), and Scott recalls that they could not have been in a more inspiring location.

“We woke up every morning and walked out of the room onto the back balcony and saw the Hollywood sign,” she remembers. “It was just the coolest.”

Adds Kelley, I think what it was for us was getting back to a little bit of that spontaneous inspiration that you get when you don’t have too many things pulling you in different directions. It was a really inspiring time, and I think we got back to the core of this group.”

Writing with an A-list team of co-writers such as busbee and Shane McAnally, Lady Antebellum wrote almost every song on their new record. Those tracks include “You Look Good” and two songs the band played during their Facebook Live event, “Somebody Else’s Heart” and the album’s title track, “Heart Break.” The latter may surprise listeners with its true meaning (hint: it’s not just about having a broken heart!).

“I feel like once we wrote this song, we had a direction,” Haywood told the crowd. “The concept of the song is not just heartbreak; it’s about letting your heart take a break … You gotta have some time for yourself; you gotta have some time to relax in between things and relationships.”

Haywood adds that, for Lady A, “Heart Break” is just as much about the band’s own need for a break over the past few years, a desire that led them to a self-imposed hiatus after their 2014 record 747.

“There’s a larger story at work for us as Lady Antebellum,” says Haywood. “I would say thank you to everybody … who’s stuck with us through all of the moments in our career. Especially letting us have a breather.”

In conjunction with the release of Heart Break, Lady Antebellum will be hitting the road for their 2017 You Look Good World Tour.

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