The country music trio and Palms resident performers explain why their forthcoming album is more about roots than reinvention.
Lady Antebellum has gifted audiences with a variety of memorable hits, from the “drunk crying and calling your ex” relatability of “Need You Now” to the sweetness of “American Honey.” But after over a decade in the spotlight, the country music trio took a short hiatus in 2015, citing creative and personal fatigue. Pressing the reset button led to two significant milestones: a return to the “songwriting first” mentality that made them so successful and a Las Vegas residency. Now, the band is gearing up forthe follow-up album to 2017’s Heart Break in between hitting the stage at the intimate Pearl Theater at the Palms, where they return for performances of Our Kind of Vegas (Aug. 23,24, 28, 30 and 31).
The future is glittering, but as the group’s members—lead vocalist Hillary Scott, co-vocalist and guitar player Charles Kelley, and backing vocalist/guitarist Dave Haywood—will tell you, they did a lifetime’s worth of work after their signature hit, “Need You Now,” hit No. 1 in 2009. “It was like immediately right when you get done with an album then you go tour, then by the end of the tour you need a single ready to follow up the tour,” Kelley says.“There were definitely times you’re like, ‘I wish we would have slowed down,’ but you’re always trying to work and outdo what you’ve done in the past,” adds Haywood.
In a country music climate currently teetering on a saturation of “bro-country” artists, Lady Antebellum’s refreshing authenticity can be primarily traced back to one thing—they’re songwriters, first and foremost. The songwriting is the solid, impenetrable foundation the group was built on. Then came the harmonies, the chemistry, the music and the performing. Kelley puts it perfectly when he remarks on how thewholesome band “isn’t the flashiest” but keeps the music at its nucleus. Fans clearly love ittoo—it’s rare an act can sustain such a cycle of hits—a staggering nine No. 1s, 18 million albums sold and seven Grammys in just over a decade. “There was a while there that we wererun ragged,” Kelley says. “We are just trying to really enjoy it all so much more now and appreciate it.”
The band’s grueling music schedule eventually churned out a full catalog of songs, many performed in Our Kind of Vegas. The Palms initially approached Lady A to be one of its only headliners, thereby joining a very select club of Las Vegas country resident artists, including the likes of Garth Brooks and Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn. “‘Milestone’ is definitely the word that sticks out for me. It’s such a career moment for us,” Haywood says.
Our Kind of Vegas perfectly encapsulates the DNA of Lady Antebellum. There are the upbeat horns of “You Look Good” and funk of “Downtown” to emotional ballads like “Hello World” and “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.” Kelley says, “This is the only place we are doing this specific set list, this full rundown of Lady A.” Old videos flash, showcasing their earlystart, and they play old favorites, newer songs and everything in between. “Each night we have been doing a new song that hasn’t been released,” Kelley says. Also for every show, they bring up special guest songwriters for an acoustic session that Kelley says is “our way of bringing Nashville to Vegas.”
In a town that defines sensory overload, Our Kind of Vegas is much more about the organic synergy and back-and-forth vocals between Scott and Kelley that make the Lady Antebellum formula work so well. It’s exactly this that spills into their forthcoming album, set for release late this year or early 2020. “These songs are the most personal we’ve ever been,” Kelley says. “Like the first single, ‘What If I Never Get Over You.’ We have all been there.” The album will hark back to the band’s first two albums, but with fresh infusions and their most revealing lyrics yet. “We try to be very vulnerable, very present and be honest,” Haywood says. “We were young and single when we kicked off this whole thing, and it’s fun to really dig deep now on lyrics, toward some heavy topics.” For their August show dates, “What If I Never Get Over You” has been added to the set list along with other new tracks. “There is a song called ‘Pictures’ that is definitely in the running for the second single, ”Kelley says. Haywood adds, “Telling stories is always what we love to do."
Photography by: Photography by Dove Shore