Album Review: Little Big Town, Pain Killer

Little Big Town Pain Killer

Little Big Town
Pain Killer


Rather than focusing on their unrivaled vocal skill, Little Big Town and producer Jay Joyce approach Pain Killer like a game of “Chicken”: Listening to the album, it appears that no idea that occurred to the band or to Joyce during their recording sessions was deemed too outlandish or too gauche.

The result is an album marred by production choices that are rarely in-service to the individual songs and are, at times, simply inexplicable. The tempo changes on “Turn the Lights On” nod to Fleetwood Mac but ultimately detract from the song, while Kimberly Schlapman gets run over by the alt-rock cacophony on “Save Your Sin” and no one comes away unscathed from the absurd reggae inflections on the title track.

It’s the album’s quieter moments that are its strongest. Both “Tumble and Fall” and “Silver and Gold” are lovely, as is the wistful “Live Forever,” and “Girl Crush” is subtle in its sophistication and subversion.

Recommended Tracks: “Girl Crush,” “Silver and Gold,” “Things You Don’t Think About”


  1. i get artists shouldn’t remain stagnant on albums but I miss the Road to Here and A Place to Land Little Big Town. Were did the Harmony go

  2. I stated in another thread that I really miss the Wayne Kirkpatrick produced sound that the band used to have. Unfortunately, that sound didn’t seem to sell records or get played on radio very much.

    The talent is definitely there. They can harmonize with each other better than just about any band out there. I appreciate their attempt to surprise and stretch – like they did with Pontoon. But at some point, you have to reel it in and find some cohesiveness. They managed that on their last album but go way off the mark with this one.

  3. I’m really digging the title track. Like, play it every day digging it. LBT performed the majority of this album when I saw them live last August (before I or anyone else in the audience had heard it – a risky move for the majority of a concert) and the only new song that stood out to me was the title track.

    I haven’t listened to the rest of the album long enough to properly judge it yet. “Girl Crush” is indeed excellent, but I wish the arrangement was more interesting. Maybe a fiddle or mandolin in the mix to give it a bit more flair. As it stands, the production on that song is too flat.

  4. I concur with CAJ, Little Big Town really needs to dump their current producer Jay Joyce and bring back Wayne Kirkpatrick. Their bluegrass-pop sound was far more enjoyable than the sound they have now. The band just hasn’t been the same since Kirkpatrick was ditched in favor of Jay Joyce who has coupled them with a boring, lifeless rock sound; a sound which doesn’t fit them at all.

    I am not sure why a country radio station would play their music anymore given that it really belongs on CHR or Rhythmic AC station. Hopefully they come to their senses one day and bring back Wayne Kirkpatrick.

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