Little Big Town

The night, with its curtain of darkness, contains many things. Hope, doubt, faith, need, resolution, joy, rage, dreams, exhaustion, romance. From that first dusky “Babe…” over a few vacillating guitar notes, Nightfall’s intimacy washes over listeners. Opening with a velvety song of desire, “Next To You” suggests a subtle look at how the world gets the best of us, how connection heals and ultimately, love is the answer.

Easily Little Big Town’s most nuanced project, upon inception, they didn’t realize they were on the verge of producing their ninth studio album. But with songs to capture, creative fires to stoke, Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet, and Jimi Westbrook went into the studio to develop what was there with no masterplan. It wasn’t long before the fiercely musical foursome realized they’d found a new creative horizon – and they just kept going until Nightfall emerged from 34 songs, myriad experiments and the inherent harmony singing that has defined the Grammy-winning group since they emerged with the steamy, stark “Boondocks.”

“From the first time we sat in the living room, it was amazing that we all gravitated to the harmonies we sing,” explains the sunny-voiced Schlapman. “In 20 years, we really have stayed with the harmonies we settle into organically. We’re all really strong and opinionated, and we’ve always been really involved, but over the years, we’ve become more comfortable with who each of us is. Our different personalities and strengths have become the thing that brings us together as us.”

Nightfall includes the Grammy-nominated consciousness tug “The Daughters,” debuted to universal acclaim on “The Academy of Country Music Awards,” the cascading loveliness of “River of Stars,” the Mexican horn stomping revelry of “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” the James Taylor-esque hope of “Bluebird” and the naked piano/gospel vocal chorus-tinged soul plea of Sweet’s raw vocal pledge on “Forever And A Night.” This is grown-up music, complex, wise, yet vulnerable.

“It’s so easy to keep layering guitars on top of each other,” Westbrook says of the sonics. “Every sound is intentional on this record. We’d empty tracks out to create more space. Those spaces let the energy come through. The space allows you to absorb what we’re saying.”

In the ache, there is surrender. In the conflict, solutions. Fairchild injects “Sugar Coat’s” whispery self-examination with a dose of awareness. Ruminating “Sometimes I wish I liked drinking, Sometimes I wish I liked pills/Wish I could sleep with a stranger, but someone like me never will,” her clear-eyed examination of societal expectations suggests the potential for a rejection of the good girl’s smile in the face of what’s handed her with a truth-reckoning “One of these nights I’ll meet you in the driveway, and tell you to go to Hell…” “How many of us are going through Hell in secret?” Schlapman asks. “For generations, women were taught not to complain, not to explain, while behind the scenes, it’s a total disaster. Secrets are so cancerous, and most of us have them. That’s the empowerment: she suffers for knowing…until…” Fairchild agrees, “Through her awakening she finds resolve and is willing to tell the truth. No more sugar coating.”

It’s followed by Westbrook’s searching “Problem Child,” which turns the rejoinder of “What’s your problem, child?” into a recognition and invitation to seek solace. As Fairchild, who Schlapman calls, “the Tom Brady of the project,” says of the song’s tenderness, “We had just written this song and instantly wanted to record it. That’s Jimi’s very first vulnerable vocal, where he said, ‘I don’t know if I know this enough to really sing it…’ That made this vocal, and everything this song is trying to communicate.”

Sweet sees the cinematic juxtaposition of it. “With those beautiful strings and that vocal, it speaks to everyone that has felt like a black sheep, like a problem child. We’ve all been that person, whether (it was when) we were a child or not, and it takes something sad and cloaks it in hope.” Not that Nightfall is a somber place. Yes, it opens the gates to reflection, but in that comes freedom and joy.

“Over Drinking,” which sounds like a throw down, celebrates moving through angst to lighter ground… “I’m Over Drinking, Over You.”
Real country, classic material with a metaphor that turns the tropes inside out. Pretty profound. “If I’m out at a bar and I’ve tied one on…I’m drunk ‘cause I’m happy not drunk ‘cause you’re gone.”

“When ‘Over Drinking’ got texted to my phone,” Fairchild marvels, “it was such a fun song, country and smart. We immediately knew it belonged on Nightfall, although the record was basically mastered and finished. We knew this was a song our fans would love. We didn’t waste a moment despite being on the road.”

Dispatching a runner to a local Bed, Bath + Beyond to buy all the baffling they could find, an “instant session” was born in an empty room backstage. “It was so spontaneous and creative!” Fairchild continues. “We carry a recording rig with us, and set it up. The drums, bass, and guitars sounded amazing. That ‘in the moment’ feeling is all over the track.”

In perfect 6/8 time, Little Big Town leaned into hard country with a slinky, celebratory earthiness. The Telecaster stings and the sticks on the rims usher in a triumph from tear-in-my-beer anguish. It juxtaposes the pluck of the teasing nag of the gently undulating “Throw Your Love Away,” which finds the ether-voiced Schlapman sparkling through a catalogue of indelible memories, or the acoustic smolder “Questions,” where the burgundy in Fairchild’s voice illuminates as she sifts through the post-breakup doubts she will never voice.

Obviously, there are layers of Fleetwood Mac’s intoxicating harmonies, the acoustic nature of Laurel Canyon, the sweeping sense of emotion that underlies Joni Mitchell and the great respect and love for the songwriters of Nashville, TN. “I’m a dreamer,” Sweet offers. “This music hopefully honors that as musicians in country music. If people can open their hearts and just connect with music in a way that feeds them, makes them feel what they need or want to, then we got it.”

Westbrook explains, “The atmosphere everyone’s living in right now had our heads in more adult places. You always want to have fun, but we’re adults with families – and needed to say something that mattered.” Still, as Schlapman boils it down, “This was a journey, and still is. Whether you’re going to the mountains, or the beach, even sitting in your living room with a glass of wine, this record is an experience. It will take you through so many places in life, hopefully sink in, and take you where you need to go, or give you what you’re looking to find.” Fairchild adds, “The sequence is deliberate to take you through the romance of Nightfall…the questions we have when we’re alone, the joy and the frolic of love and friendship, and the strength to overcome.”

As fingers find a gut string guitar, then a piano, that tranquility closes Nightfall with the reality tug of “Trouble with Forever.” Four voices caressing the breathlessness of how things start, showering the truth about how love and life fade like a benediction for the best of who we are.

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NEWS AND NOTES: Little Big Town, Parker McCollum, Kylie Morgan, Glen Campbell

Little Big Town and Parker McCollum will take part in an all-star tribute to Ronnie Milsap during his final Nashville stop on October 3rd. Tickets for the show go on sale Friday (June 9th) at 10am CT via Ticketmaster. The concert will also feature performances by Kelly Clarkson, Justin MooreScotty McCreeryTracy LawrenceRandy HouserSara EvansLorrie MorganNeal McCoyBRELANDPhil VassarTerri Clark, The Band of HeathensCharlie McCoy and more.

Hannah Corbin’s Country Happy Hour returns for Season 4 on Friday (June 9th) at 3pm ET, and the series will feature the music of several of the biggest names in country music. Hannah is one of Peloton’s lead instructors, and this class is the only country focused series Peloton has and will include songs by Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brothers Osborne and Kylie Morgan. Classes will be live beginning at 3pm ET, but you can also take them at any time after they debut. Also, Peloton has asked Kylie to join them in studio for a “from ride to dine” Happy Hour on July 7th. Kylie will take the class and then have a real-time happy hour post-class.

A bio-pic on the life of Glen Campbell is currently in development by director Justin Chadwick and producer James Keach (who directed the documentary on Campbell I’ll Be Me). Currently titled Rhinestone Cowboy, after the legendary performer’s 1975 chart-topper of the same name, the film reportedly has Tim McGraw attached to it.



Little Big Town’s 2012 Tornado album has been certified double-platinum by the R.I.A.A. (Recording Industry Association of America). The album, which features the No. 1 songs “Pontoon” and the title track, “Tornado,” stayed atop the Billboard Country Albums charts for its first five weeks, making it their longest running No. 1 album.

When the album was released, the group hoped fans would have it as one of their go-to records. I hope it’s a record that stays in their collection for years to come,” said Karen Fairchild. “You know, like one of those timeless records? That would be an amazing compliment to know that I was in someone’s playlist or go-to list of someone’s records that defined a summer time or a period in their life. I can name records for me that when I go back and I think about moments in my life, it was like my theme song or my theme record.”




Audio / Prior to the album being released, Little Big Town talk about what they hope fans will receive when they pick up a copy of their album, Tornado.


LBT (hopes for record-fans) OC: …people too. :52
JIMI: “I think they’re gonna have a good time with the record. Music is an escape, and I think that there’s those moments on the record that are that and a good time, but there’s some serious moments and moments that speak to life and the ups and downs of that, and what do we want them to have? [laughs]” KAREN: “I hope it’s a record that stays in their collection for years to come. [PHILLIP: “Yeah.”] You know, like one of those timeless records? That would be an amazing compliment to know that I was in someone’s playlist or go-to list of someone’s records that defined a summer time or a period in their life. I can name records for me that when I go back and I think about moments in my life, it was like my theme song or my theme record. And I know ‘Pontoon’ has been that for a lot of people this summer, but I’m hoping this record can be that for people too.”

Video /



The nominations for the 58th Academy of Country Music Awards have been announced. Chris Stapleton picks up four nods, including Entertainer of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, Song of the Year for “You Should Probably Leave” as both artist and songwriter.

Jon Pardi picks up nominations for Album of the Year for Mr. Saturday Night as songwriter and producer.


Carrie Underwood is nominated for Entertainer of the Year, while Jordan Davis scores his first ACM nomination for Male Artist of the Year.

Little Big Town is up for Group of the Year, and the Duo of the Year category features Brothers Osborne, Maddie & Tae and The War And Treaty.







Of note, John Osborne from Brothers Osborne earns a second nod for Album of the Year (Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville) as Producer.

The Academy of Country Music Awards will air live from the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas on May 11th on Amazon Prime.

Entertainer of the Year

Jason Aldean
Kane Brown
Luke Combs
Miranda Lambert
Chris Stapleton
Carrie Underwood
Morgan Wallen

Female Artist of the Year

Kelsea Ballerini
Miranda Lambert
Ashley McBryde
Carly Pearce
Lainey Wilson

Male Artist of the Year

Kane Brown
Luke Combs
Jordan Davis
Chris Stapleton
Morgan Wallen

Duo of the Year

Brooks & Dunn
Brothers Osborne
Dan + Shay
Maddie & Tae 
The War and Treaty

Group of the Year

Lady A
Little Big Town 
Old Dominion
Zac Brown Band

New Female Artist of the Year

Priscilla Block 
Megan Moroney
Caitlyn Smith
Morgan Wade
Hailey Whitters

New Male Artist of the Year

Zach Bryan
Jackson Dean
Dylan Scott
Nate Smith
Bailey Zimmerman

Album of the Year

Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville – Ashley McBryde; Producer: John Osborne
Bell Bottom Country – Lainey Wilson; Producer: Jay Joyce
Growin’ Up – Luke Combs; Producers: Luke Combs, Chip Matthews, Jonathan Singleton
Mr. Saturday Night – Jon Pardi; Producers: Jon Pardi, Bart Butler, Ryan Gore
Palomino – Miranda Lambert; Producers: Jon Randall, Luke Dick, Miranda Lambert, Mikey Reaves

Single of the Year

“Heart Like a Truck” – Lainey Wilson; Producer: Jay Joyce
“Never Wanted to Be That Girl” – Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde; Producers: Josh Osborne, Shane McAnally
“She Had Me at Heads Carolina” – Cole Swindell; Producer: Zach Crowell
“Thank God” – Kane Brown with Katelyn Brown; Producer: Dann Huff
“‘Til You Can’t” – Cody Johnson; Producer: Trent Willmon

Song of the Year

“Sand In My Boots” – Morgan Wallen; Songwriters: Ashley Gorley, Josh Osborne, Michael Hardy
“She Had Me at Heads Carolina” – Cole Swindell; Songwriters: Ashley Gorley, Cole Swindell, Jesse Frasure, Mark D. Sanders, Thomas Rhett, Tim Nichols; Publishers: Ashley Gorley
“‘Til You Can’t” – Cody Johnson; Songwriters: Ben Stennis, Matt Rogers
“wait in the truck” – HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson; Songwriters: Hunter Phelps, Jordan Schmidt, Michael Hardy, Renee Blair
“You Should Probably Leave” – Chris Stapleton; Songwriters: Ashley Gorley, Chris DuBois, Chris Stapleton

Visual Media of the Year

“HEARTFIRST” – Kelsea Ballerini; Producers: Christen Pinkston & Wesley Stebbins-Perry; Director: P Tracy}
“She Had Me at Heads Carolina” – Cole Swindell; Producer: Troy Jackson; Director: Spidey Smith
“Thank God” – Kane Brown with Katelyn Brown; Producer: Luke Arreguin; Director: Alex Alvga
“‘Til You Can’t” – Cody Johnson; Producer: Maddy Hayes; Director: Dustin Haney
“wait in the truck” – HARDY feat. Lainey Wilson; Producer: Inkwell Productions; Director: Justin Clough
“What He Didn’t Do” – Carly Pearce; Producer: Ryan Byrd; Director: Alexa Campbell

Songwriter of the Year

Nicolle Galyon
Ashley Gorley
Chase McGill
Josh Osborne
Hunter Phelps

Artist-Songwriter of the Year

Luke Combs
Miranda Lambert
Morgan Wallen


Audio / Carrie Underwood talks about being nominated for Entertainer of the Year.


Carrie Underwood (Entertainer nomination) OC: …that category. :47
“It is, I mean, obviously such an honor to be nominated in Entertainer of the Year. Obviously, that’s such a tough category to be in, ‘cause there’s just so, I don’t even want to call it competition, there’s just so many hard working artists out there that are just you know pouring themselves and their time and their energy and their love and their artistry into what they do. You know, obviously just to even be in the final category is just absolutely amazing and hopefully, above all, we can all just remember that it’s a celebration of a great year in country music and in our careers as artists, so we’ll just see what happens, but definitely excited to be in that category.”

Audio / Jon Pardi says his album, Mr. Saturday Night, is more about his life experiences than any other record.


Jon Pardi (New album Mr Sat Night) OC: …record before. :10
“I think it’s a special record. I think it’s different, and Mr Saturday Night, I say about this record – it’s more life experience on this record than any record before.”

Audio / Priscilla Block is so excited to be nominated for ACM New Female this year.


Priscilla Block (ACM 2023 nomination) OC: …to party, baby! :28
“Omigosh! It’s Priscilla Block. I am so honored and just literally freaking out that I am nominated for New Female at the ACM Awards. This is my second year being nominated, and it’s such an honor. Gosh, I think about five years ago when I would’ve dreamed of being here, so I’m really excited, and it’s gonna be in Texas, so I’m ready. I’m ready to party, baby!”

Audio / Michael and Tanya Trotter of The War And Treaty talk about their first ACM nomination for Duo of the Year.


The War and Treaty (ACM 2023 nomination) OC: (Tanya) …country music. 1:13
“Hey everybody! I’m Tanya, and I’m Michael, and we’re The War and Treaty. (Michael) This morning, April 13th, we woke up and to be able to see Bobby Bones do the nominations for the ACMS ad get to the category of Duo of the Year, and we were just callin’ ‘em out. We were like, ‘Brooks & Dunn,’ ‘Dan + Shay,’ and we were like ‘Brothers Osborne,’ Brothers Osborne, yes! Dan + Shay, Dan + Shay, and we was like, ‘Yes.’ We were like, ‘Maddie & Tae,’ we was like ‘Yes,’ and then time slowed down. They were like The War and Treaty. And honestly, we burst into tears, we screamed, we yelled, we high-fived, we hugged our manager, Christina. In our minds then traveled back in time and forward. We traveled to Charly Pride, DeFord Bailey and Ray Charles, and we were like, ‘I hope they’re seeing this wherever they are, and I hope they’re dancing and high-fiving as well. Thank you, ACMs.” TANYA: “Thank you so much to the ACMs and everybody who’s nominated and all of our peers in country music.”


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