The country music charts are filled mostly with guys singing songs about beer, pickup trucks and what it means to be true country. There are some exceptions, and Lady Antebellum is one of them.
The trio’s single “Compass” is in the top 10 of several country charts, including radio airplay. “Compass” is a keep-your-chin-up anthem (think of Coldplay’s “Fix You” with mandolin), a far cry from the party anthems and dirt-road homages that surround it.
But Hillary Scott, who sings and writes songs for Lady Antebellum, says she’s fine with the music coming out of Nashville, and with her band sticking to the country charts.
“Everything is cyclical,” she told The Star recently. “That’s what a lot of country music is about right now and who knows where it will go in the next 10 years?
“The heart of the matter is that those songs represent real life for people all over the country. They love to kick back and have a good time.
“As a writer, I have to stay true to who I am. I have to write about my life experiences and what I believe our fans can relate to.”
“Compass” is a song on “Golden,” the trio’s fourth studio album. Lady Antebellum’s previous three have gone platinum; its second album, “Need You Now,” is its most successful, having sold more than 4 million copies.
Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood formed the band in Nashville in 2008. Since then, the band has become one of the most decorated acts in country, winning seven Grammy awards and a small mountain of other country music awards.
With Sugarland, the Band Perry and Little Big Town, Lady Antebellum is one of several co-ed groups in country music. The co-ed lineup has been the best way for women to get songs on country radio. These days there’s a paucity of women on the charts.
“I think that everyone, especially these days, is ready for that to change,” Scott said.
When Lady Antebellum performs Saturday night at the Sprint Center, one of its openers will be Kacey Musgraves, a young artist Scott thinks will help affect that change.
“Her talent is undeniable,” she said. “You can’t listen to that album and not see or hear true talent. She won a Grammy to prove it. I think it’s a sign the tide is turning. I pray it is.
“Half of this world, or more than half, is full of women who have a lot to say, and when we feel things, we feel them hard, to the core of our beings, and I feel that perspective is missing from country radio. It’s just a matter of time.
“I’m proud of the women who are pushing through and doing so well, like Miranda (Lambert) and Carrie (Underwood) but there is definitely room for more.”
Scott has a new perspective of her own to write about. She is the first-time mother of a 6-month-old daughter, and one of the things she wants to impart to her is that women are not the weaker sex.
“She has changed everything, for sure,” Scott said. “As far as writing is concerned, I have a much stronger opinion about everything, as a mom. I really do.
“When you are responsible for another human being, you want them to be healthy in heart, soul, mind and body. I want her to be confident in herself and not be afraid to pursue any dream she wants. And I want her to be proud of me, from before she knew me till she’s 27, like I am now. That is all wired into me. I wake up every day and say a million prayers to be the self-confident, strong woman she can look up to.”
In the meantime, she and her bandmates will stay their course. They’ll keep writing and performing the kind of songs they’re known for.
“The goal of anybody, no matter what genre, is to be a part of what’s next,” she said. “That’s not to say you don’t enjoy what is happening now, but we want to be part of the next trend. You have to keep moving forward.”
Even if it means another truck song. Scott said she’s heard and read all the negative things from people frustrated by the state of country music.
“It’s been somewhat polarizing in our genre,” Scott said. “But I love to blare some of those songs as loud as possible and sing along. Then 15 minutes later, I’m writing for a more introspective and serious ballad.
“One of my favorite things about country music is the variety. It crosses and covers a variety of subject matters.”