Music Reviews

Little Big Town Nightfall

(Capitol) Rating - 6/10

There’s a certain nagging feeling I have that I should enjoy Little Big Town more than I do. The Nashville country group has had many lovable moments and songs in the past, but there is some overall disconnect. Ever since their breakthrough, 2012's Tornado, they've put out solid country crossover singles, but the full albums haven’t entirely amounted to much. The closest they’ve gotten was with 2017’s The Breaker, a near-great project with the group’s best song, Happy People. It’s always been easy to root for these guys, a group on the verge of greatness without being able to escape the clutches of goodness.

Luckily, their latest, Nightfall, threatens that issue with the beautiful opener Next to You. While the electric guitar that opens the song is almost too spotless, the doubled vocals are jaw-droppingly pretty. By the time the song’s hook comes through, the track’s slow rumbling is both comforting and imbued with a deep sense of melancholy. Once the song reaches its perfect crescendo, it cements itself as one of the best of the year. The song takes advantage of Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuk’s overly clean production in the best way possible, letting it feel stunningly pretty and untextured. The song also has somewhat of a false start, as the rest of the album doesn’t get anywhere close to Next to You’s quality.

Nightfall has its moments—from the disco-flavored title track to the tense River of Stars—but the most consistent issue is how the entire project lacks some grit. The album provides you with two fundamentally different drinking songs back-to-back, but both of them feel like they’re missing something. Over Drinking tries to marry a soggy electric guitar lick with a giant pop chorus, complete with light piano touches and staggering, giant snare drums—all to no avail. Then you’ve got the frustrating Wine, Beer, Whiskey, which jacks Latin pop-flavored horns and a scuzzy electric guitar—and it does not work well together. All of that doesn’t mention the witless lyricism, which is almost compelling in its sheer laziness. At least that song is distinct, unlike a handful of pop-country ballads here that lack memorable qualities. From overblown cheese (Questions) to overly pretty (Bluebird), some of these songs seem indistinguishable from each other. By the time reverb-soaked bongos show up here, you wish Nightfall sounded just a bit uglier.