Male-female duets have long been integral to country music, but only recently has the genre fostered multiple mixed-gender singing groups. Nipping at the successful heels of Sugarland and Little Big Town is Lady Antebellum, a two-hot-guys, one-hotter-gal outfit from Georgia. Vocalist Charles Kelley (Katherine Heigl’s brother-in-law) in particular has a deep, bluesy voice that can sell mawkish material. It’s all very pleasant, and a bit generic. As part of an aggressive marketing blitz, CMT has been hawking Lady Antebellum for the last six months, and there’s something very prefabricated about the band. And their use of Civil War iconography, from the name to lyrics like “Home is where the heart is…Just south of the Mason-Dixon line”, (Harriet Tubman would disagree), borders on tasteless. Nostalgia for the olden (more racially oppressive) South is a touchy motif in country music, and Lady Antebellum handle it rather carelessly. It’s too bad, because, artificial or not, their affective songs deserve to swipe some airtime from the execrable Rascal Flatts.
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