Nearly 15 years into their country music career, Lady A feels that their new album, What A Song Can Do (Chapter One), released June 25, brings them full circle. The Grammy-winning trio—comprised of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood—spent the last year-and-a-half re-evaluating.
The process began with their 2019 album, Ocean. Sidelined by the pandemic shortly after its release, the acclaimed country trio began asking themselves the hard questions. By pressing further into “Who are we?” and “What do we want?,” Lady A’s new project renews their vows to their artistry and fans.
This approach is not a new direction. “Rather,” Kelley says, it is “a return to the sound I think that defined us early on in our career.
“To get back there, we are trying not to chase as much, and just making music that moves us,” he continues. “It’s making sure you put art before commerce. These songs follow art, and are more present where we are right now.”
In a moment when trends allow for double records, the band took the opposite approach.
“It’s tough for me to consume that amount of music in one sitting,” says Kelley. “For me, I can really only wrap my head around six or seven, but sometimes an EP doesn’t feel long enough. It’s an experiment so listeners can really dig in and sink their teeth into these seven. And these seven are definitely most present to where we are right now.”
Over seven songs, the iconic trio traces back through time. As a collection, they share a story of strength, choosing vulnerability in an effort to continue to put forth the authentic artistry they have promised their listeners since 2008.
“Each song had to check the box of being something that we all went through over the last year,” says Haywood. He cites “Fire,” as one that captures a candid emotional experience. The track, featuring all three members with co-writer, Justin Ebach, speaks to their thematic rediscovery.
“Talk about learning who you are,” says Haywood. “This one is all about finding out what you’re made of when faced with tough times. 2020 was wild for everyone, and canceling a tour, not being able to promote our new album, just being idle—that stillness was hard for us. So we chose to put our heads down and started writing.”
Serving as a centerpiece, the title track looks back at their journey in awe. Paying tribute to the power of music, Kelley considers the songs that have carried them through their most challenging year yet. “Just listening to other people’s music that helped us through this time, and can say things better than we can say them ourselves,” he says. “I think that’s all part of this first little chapter of songs.”
Amidst political division, racial tension, and a devastating global pandemic, the band, like many others, found themselves drifting toward various vices to cope. Haywood and Scott put their heads together with co-writers Natalie Hemby and Amy Wadge on the closing track “Worship What I Hate.”
“Whether it’s too much social media, too much drinking, it’s about whatever vice we run to instead of being present with our families and friends,” says Haywood. “In trying to make sure each song felt representative of the journey of what we’re learning, this one fit. We’ve found out what we’re made of, and it’s pushed us closer together as a band and stronger in our friendships.”