Little Big Town, "Wanderlust" (Capitol Nashville)
Little Big Town, country music's top vocal group, achieved widespread fame by continually taking artistic risks and pushing boundaries. With "Wanderlust," they step out even further, working with hitmaking producer Pharrell Williams to create an album of contemporary pop and dance music.
On the surface, the new partners complement each other well: Pharrell brings his deceptively simple beats and sunny melodies, as heard on the single "One of Those Days" and album opener "One Dance"; Little Big Town's sublime vocal blend sounds great in this setting, as their harmonies and layered voices highlight the melodic uplift and rhythmic verve of the arrangements, especially on the gospel-drawn power of "C'mon" and the light Jamaican touch in "Work."
What's missing is the emotional weight Little Big Town has brought to their best work, such as the Grammy-winning "Girl Crush." Nor is anything on the 8-song "Wanderlust" quite as effervescent or engaging as previous hits "Pontoon" and "Day Drinking."
"Wanderlust" presents plenty of joyful escape and playful fun. But nothing on the lightweight collection measures up to the group's best work.