Big Machine Label Group
Release Date: October 30th 2020
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- A Holly Jolly Christmas
- Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
- All I Want For Christmas Is You
- I’ll Be Home For Christmas
- This Christmas
- The First Noel
- On This Winter’s Night
- Let It Snow
- Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
- Silent Night (Lord Of My Life)
- Blue Christmas
- Silver Bells
- Wonderful Christmastime
- Christmas Through Your Eyes
- Little Saint Nick
- That Spirit Of Christmas
Lady Antebellum (or Lady A as they are now known!), are one of my favourite country artists ever. I personally only started heavily listening to artists in the country genre around about a couple of years ago (when I reviewed Carrie Underwood’s Cry Pretty, and then later on as I blogged about more and more country artists– starting with Maren Morris, and ending with Maddie & Tae at the moment); and since that time, I’ve become amazed and intrigued by the genre at large- at the honesty and vulnerability that I originally thought was only present in Christian music, and at the largely relatable and impacting songs, that I in fact resonated with despite me not having lived in America and not experienced much of what was specifically sung about in country songs. It goes to show you the power of a song no matter the genre, and more specially the power of God moving through a particular song or a particular artist from left field- because if God can speak through Balaam’s donkey, then he can speak through anything, right? I used to be close minded and think that God can only speak through Christian music, but once that preconception and that wall was broken down, I became aware of other types of inspiring and thought-provoking music, and Lady Antebellum’s music was one of those other types of music that God was speaking through.
Now if you want to know more about what Lady Antebellum is about, and to know about their hit songs like “I Run to You”, “Need You Now”, “Hello World”, “Just A Kiss”, “Downtown”, “And The Radio Played”, “Compass”, “Bartender”, “Heartbreak”, “What If I Never Get Over You” and “What I’m Leaving For” to name a few; then you can read about them on Wikipedia or in Jon’s blog he wrote about them a while ago. Hillary Scott, Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley have been making music and providing us with heartfelt and hopeful and inspiring anthems since 2008, and what has eventuated since that time has been one of the most eclectic and lyrically strong discographies in the modern era. In the spirit of Christmas though, let us revisit their 2012 project On This Winter’s Night. More specifically, how about we delve into the deluxe edition of that project, which released this year? Jon has already written a ‘mini-review’ about Lady Antebellum’s Christmas project– and as I agree with him that this album is one of the most heartfelt Christmas albums of the past 20 years or so; it makes sense for me to echo Jon’s sentiments and then to speak about the brand new 4 songs “Wonderful Christmastime”, “Christmas Through Your Eyes”, “Little Saint Nick” and “That Spirit Of Christmas”. But before I do that, and reinforce my own believe that On This Winter’s Night is still an underrated Christmas album and one that we all need to revisit this time of year, especially since we’re all still very much affected by COVID-19 and all need inspiration and encouragement; let me address the elephant in the room.
Yes, Lady Antebellum is no more, and Lady A is born. You can read about their name change here, but it has sparked some controversy- with the group now ‘sharing’ their name with an independent black gospel artist Lady A, given name is Anita White. It’s a messy thing indeed, with both sides trading blows and both sides suing each other. While I think it was indeed pretty unprofessional for Dave, Charles and Hillary to choose a name like Lady A without checking to see if anyone else was using it first (and we all know what the ‘A’ still stands for, even if the group claim that they’re trying to distance themselves from the slavery meaning of the word Antebellum!); I believe it’s also equally unprofessional for Anita to claim to want $10 million from Hillary, Dave and Charles, in the midst of a pandemic. Both sides are a tad focused in their approach as to how they would like this thing to be resolved… and all the while music is still being released. While I don’t want this ‘review’ to be like a bashing session towards both artists- let me just say this. I haven’t listened to Lady A (the artist) before, and that’s because of personal preference, and I may get around to that in the future. However a controversial name change shouldn’t make or break Lady Antebellum’s fans (I’m just going to continue to say ‘Lady Antebellum’ because that’s how I have always known them! Their songs are still good, and they still stand the test of time. Why boycott certain artists just because of something trivial that can be resolved through mediation and maybe more of a dialogue?
Objectively, these deluxe edition songs from On This Winter’s Night are great and a joy to listen to. “Wonderful Christmastime”, an obscure holiday song that I myself found through Jars Of Clay’s version, speaks about having a ‘wonderful Christmastime’ and is filled with bells, whistles, and a heavy Christmas atmosphere; while the slower, heartfelt ballad of “That Spirit Of Christmas”, originally by Ray Charles, is an underrated gem, with the band singing about holding onto that spirit of Christmas, even when you’re feeling alone and down- as Charles leads the vocals, and delvers one of my favourite renditions of the song ever. Granted, I’ve only heard Sidewalk Prophets’ version, but anyway… “Little Saint Nick” is a fun, rollicking, energetic and joyful Beach Boys penned track led by Charles on vocals, and delves into the intricacies of how Santa delvers all of the presents on one night with his reindeers (all in good jest though!); while the pinnacle of the deluxe edition of this 2012 album is the nostalgic “Christmas Through Your Eyes”, a piano led original whereby Hillary takes the reins on vocals, and sings about the feeling of Christmas time through the eyes of her children, and then reminiscing back to that same feeling when she was a kid. It’s an honest and personal song which is one of my favourite original Christmas songs recently; and if we can get past the name of the band (which some people maybe cannot!), then we are in for a treat here with these four songs, and also as the years progress and Hillary, Charles and Dave record under their new name (and hopefully with the conflict and drama behind them); because no doubt these guys aren’t finished yet, and no doubt God has some heartfelt and impacting songs for them in the future!
Saying that I still like Lady Antebellum (or should I refer to them as Lady A now?) and will continue to listen to their music… I guess it may be controversial. Some would say I should abandon these guys and instead listen to ‘the real Lady A’… but while I firmly agree that this whole situation could’ve been handled a whole lot better, I for one am willing to give the benefit of the doubt to Charles, Hillary and Dave. Whatever their music looks like in the future, I’ll still listen. Hopefully in time, parties can heal, and a dialogue can occur that is beneficial to everyone. But right now, let me tell you that in the midst of COVID-19, On This Winter’s Night is needed. It’s needed for comfort and needed for normalcy and needed for reassurance that everything will be ok. Should I encourage you all to listen to this project- even those hurt by the decisions made about the name? I’d say yes… but not right away, and in your own time. Nevertheless, On This Winter’s Night, whether you love Lady A or not, is worth listening to- and hopefully your preconceptions on Lady A can be shattered, and you can be reminded of the story of Jesus and the spirit of Christmas that we all need in 2020. Well done Hillary, Dave and Charles- I can’t wait to hear what God has in store for you all next!
3 songs to listen to: Wonderful Christmastime, Christmas Through Your Eyes, That Spirit Of Christmas
RIYL: Carrie Underwood, Mallary Hope, Rascal Flatts, Matthew West, Steven Curtis Chapman