P.O. BOX 456 - WINCHESTER. VA. 22604
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LBT
LITTLE BIG TOWN

 

When you've spent the better part of two years in the stratosphere, it's all the more important to stay true to the elements of life that really matter--friends, family, the power of music. Those are the things that give you A Place to Land.

Little Big Town's Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Roads Schlapman, Phillip Sweet and Jimi Westbrook have learned that lesson well. By the time the group's shimmering harmonies, knockout stage shows and superb songcraft earned them a well-deserved breakthrough with 2005's platinum The Road to Here bond among them was already more family than friendship.

Since then, they've shared stages with superstars like Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, John Mellencamp, Lindsay Buckingham and Martina McBride; earned nominations at the Grammy Awards, the Country Music Association Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards and CMT Music Awards; and seen four of Road's songs become Top 20 hits ("Boondocks," "Bring It On Home," "Good As Gone" and "A Little More You").

Most importantly, they've done a lot of living over the last two years. All four members have gotten married (Fairchild and Westbrook to one another), and Roads and Sweet have each become parents. "Our lives couldn't have changed more than they have," Arkansas native Sweet says with a laugh. "We've had a lot of highs and some lows, but we kept getting stronger. We achieved this together, and it means so much to us that we share it all."

To process all that life experience into music, the group settled in during the summer of 2007 at longtime producer Wayne Kirkpatrick's studio outside Nashville--a relaxed environment where the creativity, intimacy and warmth essential to Little Big Town's signature sound naturally thrives. They emerged with an album that reflects both the seismic shifts in their own lives and the emotions they've seen reflected on the faces of their fans.
"This record is the heart and soul of what we're about," says Fairchild, who was raised in and around Atlanta. "We did a lot of soul searching while making this record. It was a very intense, and very gratifying, experience."

Of course, the first thing to capture the ear about A Place to Land is Little Big Town's impossibly lush harmonies. After singing together for so long and touring so relentlessly, the foursome's soulful vocal interplay has become second nature--as has the openness with which each shares emotion--with one another and with the listener. "I think there's a maturity that comes through because of all the work we've done together," Sweet says. "We've shared so much, and we connect on such a deep level, and you can hear that on this record."

Indeed, although it may seem odd for a 2007 CMA Horizon Award nominee, Little Big Town will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2008. Their roots go back even further, to when Fairchild and Roads began singing together while students at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. Fairchild moved to Nashville in 1994, and Roads followed a year later. The two invited old Alabama friend Westbrook to join them in 1998, and Sweet completed the band the same year.

They've been inseparable ever since, despite--or maybe because of--the diversity in their personalities and styles. "You add all these different elements together," Roads says, "and we have something bigger than all of us."

Little Big Town shares lead vocal duties more or less equitably and writes almost all their songs together with Kirkpatrick in a free-for-all collaborative effort. "We all weigh in with strong opinions," Fairchild says. "It makes each of us better, and it definitely makes us better as a group."

That approach made The Road to Here one of 2005's best-received albums and established the band as an innovative, distinctive force in country music--and beyond. Fleetwood Mac mastermind Lindsay Buckingham performed with the group on a memorable episode of CMT's Crossroads, which pairs country stars with luminaries from other genres. And rock legend John Mellencamp invited the group to open shows for him and sing backup vocals on his album Freedom's Road.

Mellencamp imparted some advice that all four took to heart. "We were on his bus one night and he said, 'Have y'all written "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground" yet? Have you written "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain"? Because that's the standard, and you guys can do it. You can turn this town on its ear,'" Fairchild recalls. "He was challenging us not to settle, and to write things that matter."

A Place to Land is full of things that matter. There's the celebration of the connection between band and fans on the sun-kissed first single "I'm With The Band." There's the uplift of "To Know Love," "Vapor" and the title song, which convey a positive message about community and finding your strength. There is the sympathetic treatment of emotional abuse in "Evangeline," which exemplifies the way the group has sought to reflect its audience's concerns despite the domestic bliss that has taken root in the Little Big Town camp.

"There's some happiness, but there's still some reality in the things that we've written," says Roads, who grew up in the foothills of Georgia's Blue Ridge Mountains. "We all still live real lives, you know. We have our experiences that we'll always cherish, even the very difficult ones. People go through those things every day, and we still have things to say about that."

Perhaps the most emphatic message carries within its grooves is that the four individuals who make up Little Big Town have never been more united, even as their horizons have expanded beyond imagining. Now they're ready to take on the world together all over again.

"There's a special connection between the four of us, for whatever reason," Westbrook says. "Who knows why that happens? You like to think that maybe it was meant to be, and I really do believe that. This group of people came together for a purpose."