One of the most popular acts of the mid to late 2000s was undoubtedly Lady Antebellum. They really blew up on everyone’s radars with their smash, crossover hit “Need You Now.” The group followed this up with a few more hits before the bro country era came around. Ever since then the only real hit the group achieved was “Bartender” and it heavily appealed to trends. Wisely, the group decided last year to go on hiatus for a while. A break was exactly what this group needed because clearly their brand of music didn’t fit current trends. Then it was announced Charles Kelley was forging a solo career and earlier this year released his solo debut album, which turned out to be an average album with a few nice songs. Now another member of Lady Antebellum is trying their hand at a solo career, lead singer Hillary Scott. The powerful front woman of Lady A has always been a good vocalist, but I’ve yet to hear a song since “Need You Now” that really showed off her strength. As a solo artist we should really get a chance to hear her at her best without the pressures of conforming to radio. Her new album will be Christian-based, showing off a side we really haven’t seen a lot from Scott. The lead single was just released and it’s titled “Thy Will.”
One thing that stands out right away about “Thy Will”: it’s much, much different from anything off of Lady Antebellum’s most recent album 747. The production isn’t overdone and the lyrics aren’t immature. It’s quite the opposite. The song is piano-based and serves as the main instrumentation throughout. Scott’s voice is clear as a bell and is allowed to be front and center. This is the Hillary Scott I’ve been waiting to hear. The song itself is about heartbreak, as Scott is clearly in pain from something that happened in her life. Scott hasn’t revealed what exactly she’s referring to and won’t answer what it is when asked. Scott turns to God in this time of pain, as she wonders why she’s feeling so much pain and worries about what is ahead in her life. Scott though realizes that she’s talking to God and that he has good plans in store and that she must be patient, as this heartbreak is all part of it. The song represents a significant spiritual moment for Scott, an epiphany for her pain. The production does a good job of bringing out the emotion of the song, as the song rises as the tone of the song lifts. In the beginning its somber, with only a lone piano. By the end it has reached bliss, represented by a soaring orchestra of instruments.
Overall “Thy Will” is a solid, coming to God song that fits Hillary Scott’s dynamic voice well. It gets back to the production of songs like “Need You Now” and “Love Don’t Live Here” that made Lady Antebellum so big and highlighted Scott’s big voice. The only complaint I have with this song is it can feel a little bit generic at times. It’s beautifully arranged, but can definitely feel too clean to some listeners and leave them wanting more “meat” to the song. Nevertheless this song has me interested in the album, as Scott exploring her spiritual and family side could make for some great music. Scott including her family on the album tells me how person this is to her, so I don’t expect any trend chasing. I doubt “Thy Will” gets big at country radio, but Christian-radio will definitely pick it up. If you’re a fan of Lady Antebellum or Christian-influenced music, I recommend checking this out. “Thy Will” is something you will enjoy.
If you read my Jason Aldean Old Boots, New Dirt album review, you could tell I was pretty frustrated towards the end of it. You see after a month or so of reviewing mediocre albums from mainstream country music, this tends to make you a little cranky. July and August brought so much great country music from a variety of artists and ever since September has started the good country music has been few and far between, with the big exceptions being Keeley Valentino and Lee Ann Womack of course. It’s been a pattern lately that female country artists have been making better music than male artists (we got the great male artists earlier in the year with Sturgill Simpson, Jason Eady, Matt Woods and others). That pattern continues with today’s review of Mickey Guyton’s new single “Better Than You Left Me.”
Who exactly is Mickey Guyton? Well she’s actually with a mainstream country label. You wouldn’t know this though because they never push her on radio or anywhere really. She’s the only solo female country artist at Capitol Records Nashville (sister label EMI Nashville has Kelleigh Bannen). She’s surrounded by big names like Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley and Lady Antebellum, so it’s no big surprise. But based off her new single, I would put her as one of the best on the label right beside Bentley and Jon Pardi (the rest I don’t care for). After listening to so much bad music from mainstream country, it was a breath of fresh air to hear Guyton (thank you Windmills Country for bringing Guyton to my attention).
“Better Than You Left Me” starts off with the sound of a mandolin and guitar. The song is about a woman who’s ex left her and as time has passed she has grown into a better person since ending the relationship, much to the surprise of the ex. Even though she was heartbroken when the relationship ended, she realizes she is better off without him now. Despite attempts by the ex to win her heart back, she isn’t falling for his tactics. The songwriting is pretty good for this song, painting a picture of the situation in the listeners’ heads and showing the emotion of the woman in the situation. Guyton co-wrote the song with Nathan Chapman, Jennifer Hanson and Jenn Schott (props to Windmills Country for this information too).
You’ll notice right away that Guyton has a dynamic and powerful voice. On her website she says she grew up listening to and credits Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston and LeeAnn Rimes as her influences. She was also into gospel music and started singing gospel in church at the age of five. This makes a lot of sense after hearing her new single because I certainly heard Parton influencing her voice with the way she carries her high notes. With the exception of Carrie Underwood, I would say Guyton has the most powerful voice in mainstream country music. You could pretty much throw any song at Guyton and I think she would have no problem singing it.
My only complaint with Guyton is why she hasn’t been pushed for radio or an album sooner. Mainstream country music is desperate for more great female country artists, especially with the departure of Taylor Swift to pop. This single is getting a push on radio soon and I hope that she gets a fair chance to capture listeners’ attentions. Guyton deserves to be on radio with her great talents. “Better Than You Left Me” comes with a high recommendation from this reviewer and I’m intrigued to hear her new album when it’s released.
For a limited time you can get Guyton’s “Better Than You Left Me” for free via her website. You can find that by clicking here.