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Little Big Town – Pain Killer album review

The country band return with their strongest album to date.

Little Big Town
Credit: Decca

Country quartet Little Big Town are on to album number six following the success of 2012’s Tornado. That record spawned some huge hits in the shape of the album’s title track and Pontoon. Two years on from that record and the band has released their brand new album Pain Killer. Those expecting more of the same will be surprised as Little Big Town has pretty much ripped up their usual formula and done something a bit different.

The lead single for Pain Killer is the quirky Day Drinking which celebrates the virtues of enjoying an alcoholic beverage whilst the sun is shining and the day is young. You can’t help but wish the sun would come out and someone pass you a nice cool beer once the song gets going. The easy-going laidback track is easily one of the best singles the band has released to date and it’s sure to be a favourite on the live circuit come next summer.

Pain Killer opens with Quit Breaking Up With Me, a jangly rootsy country number that has a little bit of Sheryl Crow about it. It sets the album off on an uptempo note and serves up some of the band’s now trademark harmonies. From that point onwards it’s a really variety show with the band trying out different sounds and heading off in directions we haven’t heard before. Tumble and Fall is a cross between Fleetwood Mac and Bryan Adams with Jimi Westbrook taking on lead vocals, Faster Gun adds a 70s rock twist, and Save Your Sin delivers a surefire slab of dancefloor country.

One of the strongest tracks on the album is Things You Don’t Think About. It has a rock edge and is one of the best vocals from Karen Fairchild on the record. She commands that you listen to every word she sings and when Kimberly Schlapman comes in on backing vocals it’s pure magic. Title track Pain Killer adds a light reggae beat and provides one of the most radio-friendly moments on the record.

Our favourite moment comes on Girl Crush. The gentle track features Karen on lead vocals as she sings about admiring another woman. It’s an interesting focus for a song and there’s a twist in that the girl crush stems from wanting to impress a man by looking like a woman he is clearly interested in.

Album closer Silver and Gold ends things on a harmony-filled down-tempo moment which is one of the most simplistic songs on the record. It’s a suitable ending for an album that explores lots of new sounds for the band and it’s a nod back to their folkier offerings on previous records.

Little Big Town are still leading the pack when it comes to modern country music. Pain Killer is their most ambitious album to date and it pays off massively. It’s nice to really hear the different influences of the band and the vocals are on point throughout. If you’re looking for a modern day Fleetwood Mac then look no further than Little Big Town. Pain Killer is a record that is definitely something special.

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