By Brian Ives
Little Big Town is nominated for Vocal Group of the Year at this year’s ACM Awards, and as always the competition is tough: they’re up against Lady Antebellum, the Eli Young Band, Old Dominion and Rascal Flatts.
“That category is fierce,” Karen Fairchild says. “But they’re all our friends, and if we don’t win, we’ll still be cheering.”
And they’re not spending too much time thinking about 2016; they’ve just released an excellent new album, The Breaker, which kicked off last year with the Taylor Swift-penned “Better Man.”
A Swift-written song is a pretty big “get” for any band, but Little Big Town’s Phillip Sweet told Radio.com that it happened organically. “We’ve known Taylor for a long time, and she actually sent [the song in] an email to me, and I passed it to the rest of the band. And she was just like, ‘I’ve thought about you guys singing this melody… let me know what you think.’ And we fell in love with it.”
The album has much to love beyond the first single. “We Went to the Beach” is ostensibly about the beach, a subject that country music is increasingly comfortable with, although it’s not a party jam. Kimberly Schlapman says “I love, love, love that song and every time Phillip starts that first verse, I find myself in our old station wagon with the wood paneled sides driving down to Florida and I see so vividly the hotel room that we stayed in, and the bedspreads in the room. It brings tears to my eyes. The second verse is about friends and the third verse is about the person that you love.”
Another song likely to inspire tears is “Don’t Die Young, Don’t Get Old,” which Schlapman and Karen Fairchild co-wrote with the Love Junkies — a.k.a. songwriters Hilary Lindsey, Lori McKenna and Liz Rose, who also wrote “Girl Crush.” Fairchild says “We had lost Jimi [Westbrook]’s sister to cancer, and she did pass too soon. Just reflecting on her beautiful life and her family and the way she lived her life. Lori McKenna had this title, and it was very therapeutic to be with that group of girls that day, knowing that we were going to celebrate a life.”
In a separate interview with Radio.com, Love Junkie Lori McKenna said, “I don’t think we started til 8:00 at night, and that had been such an emotional summer because of Jimi’s sister. We didn’t know if the writing session was going to happen. We thought ‘There’s no way that she’s going to want to write a song after this,'” noting that the session took place shortly after the funeral.
“But sometimes, as a songwriter, that’s exactly what you need, and we had wine and we cried, and she told us about her life.” And that conversation led to the song.
Another highlight is “Beat Up Bible.” Fairchild says, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, the things that give you faith and your family are the things that you go back to in the times that you’re struggling. and it’s the truths that were passed down… for a lot of people in the south, it’s centered around their faith and having that Bible and that belief in God. It gets passed down from generation to generation and it’s what people hold on to when they’re struggling. And it’s the best vocal that Kimberly’s ever cut.”
The group will be touring throughout the year; never miss a tour date at Eventful. And see if Little Big Town win Vocal Group of the Year at the ACMs when it airs live on CBS on April 2nd at 8:00 pm ET/7:00 pm CT.