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RECORDINGS : Quick Spins

A PLACE TO LAND

Little Big Town

With sweet, intense four-part harmonies that recall the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, the country band Little Big Town can slop almost any old verse on the page and get away with it. "Lord, I was born with a suitcase in my hand"? Dylanesque! "Baby, it's a fine line"? Shakespearean! A story-song about a woman denying blatant bruises and scars because she's addicted to domestic abuse? Okay, that one ("Evangeline") reads pretty good by itself. Add the singing and it becomes multidimensional. Both harrowing and soothing, it's one of the best songs on the subject since Martina McBride's "Independence Day."

Little Big Town -- Karen Fairchild and Jimi Westbrook, who married each other since the band's 2005 platinum-selling debut, "The Road to Here," as well as Kimberly Roads Schlapman and Phillip Sweet -- invests its songs with a certain oomph no matter where it's borrowed from. The opening "Fine Line" takes Fleetwood Mac's "Hold Me" another step deeper into mistrustful-lover territory; the closing "Fury" captures a seething response to betrayal so well that the song rises above a homage to Bad Company and 1970s rock radio.

But even when the music is predictable, Little Big Town has the versatility to plunge an unexpected voice or spirit into a straightforward lyric. "To Know Love" is, yes, a love song, but it has a stripped-down, hymnlike vulnerability. "Lonely Enough" is about pain and longing, but it has a vocal toughness that makes the sentiment more bearable. For this promising band, where the songs go is more important than where they come from.

-- Steve Knopper

Little Big Town is scheduled to perform Jan. 26 at 1st Mariner Arena.

DOWNLOAD THESE:"Evangeline" and "Fury"


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