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"Ocean" Lady Antebellum

by Steven Daniszewski - Staff Writer
Thu, Nov 21st 2019 12:00 pm

I know country isn’t popular with everyone, or as popular as it was at SUNY Moville. Maybe I’m generalizing The College at Brockport’s music tastes based on the lack of ‘brodozers’ and other trucks at Brockport, but I’d wager it’s not as popular here as it was in ‘the valley.’

Those hills are where I found a greater appreciation for country music. I’d represent how this happened by a summary of hiking Mount Cascade in winter accompanied by a friend armed with a speaker. 

I was happy initially, but after two hours, and realizing he played “Big Green Tractor” three times, I was done. Even if I hustled up the trail, within 10 minutes I’d hear Luke Bryan catching up to me once again. There was no escape, even in the deepest, snowed in mountain trail, so enjoyed it. Back to the album — where does it lie? Will I want to ride into the sunset somberly? 

Lady Antebellum’s “Ocean” is firmly on the new country side of things; it is not barebones and twangy, yet it’s still not fully pop, and is not fully ‘fratbro’ country — you know, the country that occasionally features raps straight from a Jawga Boyz track. 

If you’re new to country, introductory courses may be found at a bonfire party populated by suburbanites whose ties to the country life starts with the fact their tract housing was built on former farmland. I can make those jokes because I, too, am a bonafide burb-billy. 

I say all this not just to poke fun, but to highlight the opposite direction this album is taking — as bandmember Charlie Kelly states: “It’s not gonna be for everybody. I wouldn’t pop this thing in if you’re wanting to go out and have a bachelorette party.” 

From handling heartbreak to reaffirming the joy of life, “Ocean” seeks to evoke emotions deeper than the desire for applepie moonshine on Friday night. (Actually, one inspiration is going over the struggle with filling mason jars too often).

And for the most part, it delivers. I say only for the most part, as some of the songs do kind of blend together in between harder hitting tracks that stand out stronger. It starts out with “What if I never Get Over You,” a heartbreak ballad aimed toward being a hit single; the next one that stands out is “You can do You,” a more upbeat, “I’ve moved on, really” track — next is “Alright,” then finally “The Thing that Wrecks You,” a collab track with Little Big Town that crashes back into heartbreak. 

Despite the tonal shifts, each ticks boxes for strong emotions and complex themes, mellowly sung lyrics. Overall, I feel each song in the album may eventually work their way into a breakup playlist. 

Each song is designed around telling a story. The instruments, melodies, harmonies all work to support the vocals. Harking back to the mild controversy over “Old Town Road,” the consensus is that country tells a story. Whether it’s an acoustic performance by Willie Nelson on his Trigger or a stadium anthem played by Carrie Underwood, storytelling is what defined country, and “Ocean” fully delivers on that. 

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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