Lady Antebellum: Eternal Summer

For those who railed against We Own The Nightan album that, for all its songwriting savvy, was still heavy with gauzy overdubs and string-swollen arrangements – Golden might be the right change of pace. The songs are leaner and more direct. They’re a bit weirder, too, especially “Downtown,” the sassiest, spiciest slice of funky-tonk these guys have ever dished up. Other highlights include an excellent cover of Will Hoge’s “Better Off (Now That You’re Gone),” which mixes power chords with Tom Petty-ish jangle, and “Long Teenage Goodbye,” a wistful anthem in the vein of “American Honey” and “Dancing Away With My Heart.”

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Like a Norman Rockwell painting for the iPod age, “Long Teenage Goodbye” finds Hillary Scott looking back on her days as a rosy-cheeked teenager in love. It’s a pitch-perfect portrait of country-pop nostalgia – a girl with a sunburn and a crush, a boy with blue jeans and a tattoo, a poolside party where the latter declares his love for the former – and even though the whole thing feels a bit familiar, it still packs a punch.

“I think that’s the best phase of your life,” Haywood admits. “That time when you were 14 or 15, and your only care in the world was chasing this girl down or doing something fun during the middle of the summer. It probably didn’t feel as easy and carefree and innocent as it does when you look back on it now, but I think it’s a universal feeling that a lot of people have about their childhood.”

Kelley clutches his head in mock agony and says, “I coulda won state! If I had just caught the ball, I coulda won state! Ah, those were the glory days!”

Ignoring him, Scott picks up the conversation and adds, “The older you get, the more you realize that these things you thought were perfect – whether it’s the world, your family, or you – are really imperfect. So it’s fun to look back now and again, trying to do it through the eyes of a child.”

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