NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When the members of Lady Antebellum sat down to plan out their new Christmas album they faced a choice: Toss it off or take it seriously.
In the end, the platinum-selling trio of Hillary Scott, Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley put in as much or more work than they had on any of their three previous studio albums. For a simple reason.
“These things live out long past some of your other records because every season it comes back,” said Kelley, who was born in Augusta.
“It could potentially outlive us, literally,” Scott said. “You think about Bing Crosby and some of those classic versions of Christmas songs, and it’s like we could be that. Which is crazy and heavy in a way.”
On This Winter’s Night will be released Oct. 22. It’s notably different from previous Lady A work, filled with lush orchestral moments, string sections and more full-band arrangements than they’ve previously attempted. The title song, co-produced with Paul Worley, is an original, written by the group with Grammy-winning songwriter Tom Douglas.
“All those big arrangements, we wanted to make sure they were right,” said Haywood, who also is from Augusta. “And these songs that people have done almost perfectly, like these Bing Crosby songs and Brenda Lee songs that are just so well done, we wanted to make sure we didn’t just go in there and say, ‘Oh, this will be fine.’ So we spent tons and tons of time just making sure that our version would be something that would hopefully be around for a while.”
In a way, the Christmas album – made in two summer sessions during breaks from touring – was a warm-up for work on their next studio album. The group recently started putting down tracks with Worley in Nashville, Tenn., for their follow-up to the platinum-selling We Own the Night. Kelley said it’s the first album they’ve recorded that doesn’t have a deadline looming.
They’ll head to Australia to finish off their We Own the Night world tour and they’ll do some promotional work for the Christmas album. But for the most part, they’ll be focused on the new record for as long as they want.
“I think that’s the biggest freedom for us,” Kelley said. “I think we’d be lying if we said we didn’t feel pressure with the last record coming off Need You Now, so I think we’re far enough away from that, and coming off a successful tour, for us, for me, was the most rewarding and comforting thing. We’re like, ‘Oooh, we’re good.’ We can go in here and make a creative record without so much pressure. So we’re going to go in here I think and take some chances and actually get back to the basics a little more with this record.”