Single Review: Little Big Town, "Tornado"

Even by Little Big Town standards, “Tornado” has a unique and cool sound.  I can only guess that they were especially inspired by the song’s concept.

Too bad that inspiration didn’t produce stronger lyrics.  The concept is interesting, but it’s forced,

with predictable imagery lifted right out of Wizard of Oz.

It doesn’t help matters that “Blown Away” is out at the same time, which took this imagery to far more compelling territory.  It sounds a lot more creative than it really is.

“Tornado” rumbles and grumbles, but it never gets off the ground.

Written by Natalie Hemby and Delta Maid

Grade: B-




  1. I know that there are people here at Country Universe that really like Little Big Town. It seems many of their supporters enjoy their lyrical creativity, musical selections and strong vocal abilities. However, I just can’t place myself in that crowd any longer. When Little Big Town lost their bluegrassy-pop edge in the music, they started losing me.

    The bluegrass-pop sound that they were producing on their first three albums was great. They had a unique sound in a country market full of bombastic pop-rock production. There were no drum machines, hand-claps or fake, contrived sounds backing the songs. Strong, bluegrass-country centered lyrics were backed up with like-minded production. Mandolins, slick dobro slides and great acoustic guitar rhythms prevailed throughout the entire record.

    The previous album however and their current feature presentation “Tornado” have given up on that. I just feel too disappointed that Little Big Town chose to abandon their distinctive bluegrass-pop sound that helped make their first three albums an enjoyable listen. Instead, as unique as they might be trying to sound now production wise, they just sound like another pop act with above-average lyrics out on the radio. I’d like to see a return to their roots, I don’t see that coming though.

  2. “Tornado” DEFINITELY gets off the ground for me. Little Big Town just keeps getting better and “Tornado” proves that for me. They have expanded their sound without abandoning anything that made them great in the first place. For me, “Blown Away” has nothing on “Tornado” because”Tornado” is more hard core in its sound while “Blown Away” is too slickly bland to me. Different strokes, for different folks, but “Tornado” is A+ in my book.

  3. I would have rated “Tornado” with at least a ‘B’. The songwriting is not extraordinary but what I think lifts this song is its cool production. It’s edgy, a bit sinister but totally catchy. Karen Fairchild’s vocals are also spot-on. I think she sounded better here than in “Pontoon.”

  4. I would have rated “Tornado” with at least a ‘B’. The songwriting is not extraordinary but what I think makes this song a standout is its cool production. It’s edgy, a bit sinister but totally catchy. Karen Fairchild also did well in delivering the vocals. I think she sounds better here than in “Pontoon.”

  5. I’m often surprised by what record labels decide to release as singles. I also think that “Sober” or “Leaving in Your Eyes” would have been better choices. I do love LBT and I hope that radio embraces this just because they have paid their dues. They had so many should have been hits on their other albums that I hope everything they release from this album does well. I have the same problem with Miranda’s singles. I often think that the label releases what sound like album cuts.

  6. Seriously, the State Farm add needs to go….It is constantly covering over the text so that I can’t read the reviews. I find no way to close or move it. Either get them to revise the add so that it can be moved, minimized or closed or have it removed because why should I come to a site to read something that I can’t read because of some stupid add covering up the words.

  7. Count me in the minority, but I like it. I’m really digging the sinister Bobbie Gentry-like vibe.

    Why is it the second single? Here’s my theory: Karen sings lead. I have a strong feeling the record label (and country radio) is trying to promote her as the band’s lead singer, when in fact LBT have come out and said they don’t have a lead singer.

    The only questionable aspect of this song’s release is the similarities to “Blown Away.” This is the better song all around, but the sameness in theme may hold it back. Or not, as “Blown Away” just peaked. We’ll just have to see.

  8. I for one am a purest at heart, but I love this song. It has the souther gothic feel of “the night the lights went out in georga” and “Ode to Billy Joe”. Heaps above “Blown Away”. Karen really shines on the vocals, and the whistle and ghost heard in the background=priceless. Hope they have many more hits to come.

  9. I don’t get this song. I wasn’t sure why it was leaving me cold, but I think Kevin nailed it. The metaphor is too forced, and it never really goes anywhere. I may be missing something, but I’m not really getting a Bobbie Gentry vibe at all from this.

    I was noticing that the label as well as country radio seems to favor the singles in which Karen sings lead. While I think she makes a great frontwoman, I also hope that the other three members don’t get gradually relegated to the background. I always thought the fact that all four members sang lead was one of the things that made LBT cool and unique.

  10. I think the label went with another Karen Fairchild single for continuity from Pontoon as they try to get Little Big Town on a roll at radio. Little Big Town hasn’t had consecutive hits in a long time and the familiarity of Karen Fairchild as lead will probably help this song at radio. Once Little Big Town has consecutive hits again they can release songs with other people as leads. I expect Sober’ll be released after this and that’s a Kimberly Schlapman lead.

    I agree with Kevin about these lyrics. I understand why the Blown Away comparison was mentioned and I think another song this song reminds me of and can’t stack up to is Gunpowder & Lead. Both songs do something this song doesn’t. Blown Away’s lyrics are much more expressive and bring this larger than life, act of God that gives a mythic tension to the song and Carrie’s performance and the production all line up with that. In Tornado, I don’t feel like the metaphor is ever explained or justified.

    Gunpowder & Lead gives you that tension and lots of concrete details for why this girl is spitting mad and exactly what she’s going to do about it. You get the build up and you get the payoff. Lyrically Tornado’s in no man’s land between abstract/mythic and relatable.

    Still, I really like the melody of Tornado and think it comes close to saving the lyrics. I like Karen on vocals, the harmonies are placed well, and the production is really cool. I like listening to LBT and this song’s definitely not one I skip when I listen to their album.

  11. I would like to see them release “Can’t Go Back” as a single. But I’m sure they won’t because the label knows it’s a song country radio won’t have any interest in.

  12. “I think the label went with another Karen Fairchild single for continuity from Pontoon as they try to get Little Big Town on a roll at radio.”

    Not to mention that this song sounds the most like “Pontoon.” At first I thought it was the exact same beat – the tempo, at least, is practically identical.

    B-/B is about right for me. I agree with the review. I mean, if you’re going to liken yourself to a natural disaster, best to go all the way:

  13. As for future singles from the album, I’m pretty stumped. “Sober” does seem like the only obvious one. I dig “Leavin’ In Your Eyes” and “Can’t Go Back,” but they seem too unique for radio. And everything else pretty much feels like an album cut to me.

  14. Strangely, this is my favorite of the LBT albums. I hadn’t really been able to appreciate them outside of live performances until this album. I feel like their sound has more muscle or something now. They sound less “show choir-y” to me now.

  15. Boy you weren’t kidding about the lyrics..repetitious for sure. Also, the one thing I love about LBT is their pure singing. This has way too much production covering up their voices. Even Karen’s isn’t that pronounced. Carrie definitely has production on “Blown Away” but you can hear her voice nice and clear and her lyrics are much more interesting. I’m shocked actually at this song..I hope there is more to look forward to out of this album.

  16. No melody to speak of, no quality lyrics, nothing to distinguish this from hundreds of other new age Country songs. Film clip only makes matters worse. Seems as though they have set themselves extraordinary low standards. Sadly, at this point, they haven’t been able to live up to them.

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