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Lady Antebellum at DTE, 5 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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Back in 2015, Lady Antebellum alarmed fans a bit by announcing an open-ended hiatus. But it turned out there was no real cause for alarm.

Group members Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott did take time to produce solo efforts -- Scott's recorded with her family -- but the country trio was back in action soon enough with its seventh album, "Heart Break," which came out earlier this month and was the group's fifth to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart.

"Heart Break" is, however, a slightly different effort for Kelley, Scott and Dave Haywood. The trio worked more extensively with producer busbee (Michael Busbee), a hitmaker who collaborated with Lady A earlier in its career, and the result is a polished 13-track effort that straddles the line between country and contemporary pop -- without, Kelley maintains, losing the harmonic character that's so much a part of Lady A's makeup...

Kelley, 35, says that in hindsight the group probably set off unnecessary alarm bells with its announcement of hiatus a couple of years ago. "It wasn't that long, really," he acknowledges by phone from his home in Nashville. "That was probably a poor use of words. A little creative break is the better way of saying it, maybe."

The break did allow Kelley, Scott and Haywood a chance to stockpile some material. "It's the most we've ever written for an album," he notes. "I think we've written maybe nine or 10 before, and this was 11 of 13 songs. Before when we were on the road a lot you have to look outside for more songs. Since we weren't touring so much we had a chance to focus on the writing more for this one."

There's also a different character to the songs on "Heart Break," according to Kelley. "We wanted to have a little more of our personal story in this album," he explains. "We've always been doing that, but this time we felt like we needed to write even more personal songs like 'The Stars,' and 'Army' is about Dave and my wives that keep this thing going; We get all kinds of glory out there on the road and it's all because they're sitting there at home keeping the wheels on track. We needed to do that, too, for the fans; 'Oh, you took two, three years between records. You need to give us a taste of what's going on in your life.'"

Kelley does acknowledge that after taking the break Lady A was not certain if it lost any ground with its audience. "There's always that little fear; You don't know what that break has done, necessarily, to the interest of the fans," he says. "This year it's all about small victories -- Let's get songs here that work. Let's let the record build the buzz. Let's let the tour build and see if people come out. It's just a natural ebb and flow of a career. It feels good now to see that the fans did stick around and will stay there hopefully, as long as we keep delivering great music to them. I definitely feel a different energy this time than I did the last few (albums)."

It's been 10 years since Lady A released its first single, "Love Don't Live Here," and with sales of more than 10 million albums in the U.S. and 14 Top 10 Country hits, Kelley and company feel like they've accomplished quite a bit in not a lot of time. "It's been a crazy ride, that's for sure," he says. "I appreciate it all so much more now than I did at the beginning. You're always looking forward, always looking at the next thing. Right now I feel like we're on the second chapter of our career, so, OK, what kind of band do we want to be? Do we want to be a big arena rock band? Do we want to kind of lay it back more and get more artistic and be a theater-type band? Right now we're just in this mode of 'Let's keep pushing hard and keep after it, pushing ourselves and see how long we can push it, how big we can be.'"

99.5 WYCD Hoedown with Lady Antebellum, Kelsea Ballerini, Brett Young and more

4 p.m. Friday, June 30.

DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.

Tickets are $65.50 and $45.50 pavilion, $32 lawn.

Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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