Lady Antebellum – “Need You Now”

Jim Malec | August 17th, 2009


I’m not convinced that Hillary Scott’s voice is one of music’s great instruments. Although she’s a capable singer, her tone and vocal character each strike me as unremarkable, smooth and sweet–and, at times, powerful–but lacking the variable and very tangible element which separates legends from hitmakers, that audible “something” that exists on a plane a step beyond talent.

On “Need You Now,” however, Scott is vulnerable and broken as she offers up an indelible and emotionally satisfying performance–one that goes a long way towards changing my mind.

“Need You Now’ isn’t what most country fans will call organic, but there’s a rawness in Scott’s performance that makes it feel strangely real and relatable. Her voice may not be laced with the piercing sharpness of Natalie Maines’ or the bellowing southern swagger of Jennifer Nettles’, but it’s a perfect fit for a song that features a dark, foreboding arrangement and a regretful emotional core.

Boasting a sparse piano line and a wailing lead guitar that each underscore the moody track, “Need You Now” is a refreshing take on pre-21st century (pre electronic-infused) pop, and Scott’s compelling performance is aided by the tightness of the song itself; there’s an apparent attention to detail and cohesion here, one that has been lacking in much recent music (country and otherwise).

Charles Kelly sings on this, too; his contribution, however, is dispensable and highlighted by awkward phrasing and a surprisingly stuffy tone. Even with that it sticks–Kelly may have turned in the flip side of Scott’s notch-above work, but he still gets to the core of this material in a believable way. And to the point, he makes Scott sound even better–a good thing, because “Need You Now” is, from the first hushed, smoky note she sings, all about her.

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Listen: Lady Antebellum – “Need You Now”

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  1. [...] the year 2009, Taylor Swift sold 592,000 copies of her album Fearless in the first week. This year Lady Antebellum has reached top 10 in Top 100 Billboard Music with the single ‘Need You [...]
  1. Leeann Ward
    August 17, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    Yeah, I found the vocals more compelling in this song than in past recordings that I’ve heard.

  2. Billy
    August 17, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    I agree with Jim on this one.

  3. Chris D.
    August 17, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    This song is really growing on me, hopefully it means that their next album won’t be so bland.

  4. Wade Patry
    August 17, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    This group has alot of potential. This song shows it I think.

  5. Melody
    August 17, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    I got to see Lady A in concert at our local county fair in Corvallis, Oregon recently (had row 5 seats) and they were kind enough to sign after the show. I downloaded this song the second it was available on iTunes and I absolutely love it, I’m completely obsessed with it and have been basically playing it almost once a day. Looking forward to their 2nd cd even more!

  6. Nicolas
    August 17, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    This song is by far the best one they’ve made =) I really enjoyed it

  7. Joe
    August 17, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    I don’t know if it’s because “Need You Now” truly is a duet (which are very rare despite all the so-called duos out today), or if it’s just the harmony, or the way the longing in the lyrics is matched by that of the melody, or … what …

    I don’t even wanna think about it. While I’m yet to consider myself a fan of Lady Antebellum, I think figuring out why I’m LUH-VING this song could hurt this admittedly surprising visceral feeling I’ve developed for it.

  8. Melody
    August 17, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    I think one of my favorite things about Lady A is the fact that they’re what I want other duo/trio groups to be like. Brooks and Dunn- you know you only hear one of them. Sugarland- when do you ever hear Kristian Bush? Dixie Chicks- Natalie Maines all the time. Montgomery Gentry does a better job of mixing it up but I truly enjoy Lady A sharing the lead.

  9. agent713
    August 18, 2009 at 10:16 am

    I agree with Melody. I love hearing groups/duos sharing the lead. I am a huge, huge fan of this song. I didn’t mind their first singles but the first time I heard this song it was like a punch to the gut. The rawness and vulnerability conveyed in the lyrics reminds me of Keith Urbans “Tonight I Wanna Cry” which is one of my all time favourite songs.

  10. Good Gravy
    August 18, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Decent song – basically about a late night booty call right? Good stuff.

    Obligitory snarky comment – Who’s wearing more eyeliner in the pic above? Charles or Hillary?

  11. Jaime
    August 18, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Pretty and sad but not weepy. Great song.

  12. Dustin J.
    August 18, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Well, I’ll be the first one to disagree. :)

    I really felt like there were better songs on their debut album that could have been released, as opposed to going the Toby Keith route with the three-and-out.

    I love Lady A, and really feel as though their debut album was the best things to come out of Nashville in quite some time, but I’m not really digging the 80′s pop sound they’ve got going on this one.

    On a totally different note, for those who say they enjoy hearing groups share the lead… it should would be nice to get a true four-part harmony back on the country airwaves again. Maybe I’m showing my age, but I really miss the days of the Oaks and the Statlers. :)


  13. Stormy
    August 18, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Dustin–Have you checked out OCMS.

  14. Nicolas
    August 18, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    @Melody: You’re right with Brooks & Dunn, but the other chicks do sing (sometimes) and one plays the fiddle/one the banjo. Likewise, Sugarland’s Kristian Bush primarily plays the mandolin… while he occasionally sings on songs like “Love”.

  15. prior
    August 19, 2009 at 2:31 am

    uhm, melody… natalie maines and jennifer nettles are lead singers.

  16. Melody
    August 19, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Lol yes but they “appear” to be in a trio or duo…Lady A is known as as Hillary, Charles, & Dave with Dave and Hillary sharing the lead. Just saying it might be nice if other duos/trios could as well.

  17. agent713
    August 19, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Random observation. The first few notes of this song always make me think it’s Mercy Me’s “I Can Only Imagine”.

  18. klark
    September 2, 2009 at 5:34 am

    i dunno but the first few notes sounded like it’s from a thriller-suspense movie, peace.:)
    anyway, it indeed added to the moody atmosphere of the song, and it’s their best song to date

  19. Noeller
    September 7, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    This song is flat out outstanding and one of the best things we’ve heard on country radio in a long time. As a music director, I appreciate having something of quality to spin!

  20. Abbey
    September 17, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    OMG I absolutely love this song! The first time I heard it I wanted to keep listening to it over and over again! This group is amazing and I am definatly going to buy every one of their cds!

  21. Danny Boy
    October 9, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Agent713, I completely agree. This is one of the best singles that this group has released and their sophomore album is something that will be sought after, if this song is any indication. This single shows how the group has “progressed” in the period of time from their first CD to this one and the sounds/songs that their next album will be boasting. Definately a fan of them.

  22. Greg R.
    November 2, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    A stuffy tone? I’m a little lost by that comment about Charles’ vocals.

  23. shirley
    November 11, 2009 at 7:59 am

    when is the release date of Lady Antebellum’s cd “Need You Now”?

  24. Chris N.
    November 11, 2009 at 9:40 am

    January 26.

  25. Mike
    November 13, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    This song isn’t about a booty call. It’s about ex lovers that have been apart for quite some time, who think about each other constantly and need each other back. Just wanted to clarify since one comment said it was about a booty call.

  26. Mike
    November 13, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    at least that’s the way I took it…

  27. Chris
    November 13, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Mike is right.

    “Picture perfect memories scattered all around the floor”

    “Wishing you’d come sweeping in the way you did before”

    Definitely an ex.

  28. Sheep
    November 23, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    I love this song. I do think it’s more pop than country, but this is still one of the best things released to country radio this year.

    I will definitely be buying Lady A’s upcoming album in January.

  29. !~!TRISH!~!
    December 8, 2009 at 8:51 am

    OMG i F…ing love this song! lol :)

  30. Kat
    January 22, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Whoever wrote this article had to be smokin crack before they wrote it! LOL Charles Kelly’s voice is as hot as a firecracker! Hillary Scott does have a beautiful voice, but this song would be nothing without Charles Kelly. The harmony of them together is unmatchable. The piano isn’t bad either! What an amazing group! Keep it up Lady A!

  31. john
    January 27, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    AUSOME!!!!!best song since trick pony-pour ROCKS!!!!!!

  32. bunny
    March 23, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    I some how can relate to this song reminds me of a man I loved very much and I had to let him go. Love hurts sometimes,and I only wish I could call up say this to him even when I get a little drunk. For the true romantic’s in the world I did call him. He told me he loved me misses me and I do cross his mind all the time. Will it never turn out between us NO but, I can feel him threw this song and cry Good bye my love think of me when you hear this song too !

  33. Isel
    May 19, 2011 at 12:26 am

    Wow! This song really reminds me of my ex. I can relate to this song. I’ve been in this situation and it’s not easy.


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