Lady A took a breather after 2014's 747, with Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott both releasing solo albums in 2016, while Dave Haywood produced the country-pop trio Post Monroe. Reconvening, the group teamed up with Busbee -- the buzz producer of 2017 thanks to his lithe, clever production for Maren Morris' 2016 debut Hero -- and headed out to the west coast to cut Heart Break. Lady A have steadily drifted toward the smooth sounds of soft rock, and recording in Southern California only accentuates their inherent mellowness. Busbee adds some flash to Lady A, particularly on the numbers that are just a shade lively. "You Look Good" cooks with a vaguely funky beat, canned synth-horns, and busy drum loops; "Good Time to Be Alive" aspires to be an affirming anthem echoing off the walls of stadiums; "Think About You" moves along to a clean, chipper hook, and "Teenage Heart" achieves a synthesis of open-road country and Lumineers-styled stomp-alongs. These are the exceptions to the sweet, soft rule, though. The rest of Heart Break is split between slow tunes -- either songs of love won or lost (notably, the title track does not belong to this latter category) -- and sugary midtempo numbers graced by the group's supple harmonies. It's mood music and designed to be as such: The alluring sheen doesn't intend to grab the ear but burrows into the subconscious, so the melodies are remembered upon repeated plays. Perhaps the songs often resemble one another, but isolate individual tracks -- especially on radio -- and they each seem sturdy and friendly, the kind of music that is proudly pleasant.
Heart Break Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine