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Girl Crush

by Little Big Town

It’s not easy to find a new angle on the classic 6/8 country ballad formula, so I can’t help admiring the way Little Big Town have refreshed it here with an inspired combination of quirky instrument sounds. Right from the outset the obligatory arpeggiated guitar is garnished with a deliciously strange slapback echo reminiscent of water dripping. Between that, the achingly glistening lead vocal and the supporting backing vocals, there’s plenty to hold the attention well past the end of the first minute, until that magic moment when the specks of tuned percussion (celeste and vibraphone, I’d guess) start arriving at 1:16. Then the crusty drums shuffle into the second verse like some kind of shy trip-hop refugee, followed not long after by querulous, almost otherworldly little Hammond stabs. And gluing it all together is a constellation of Nashville’s most tastefully understated backing sweeteners — rich bass guitar, oh-so-subtle clean guitar layers, and a variety of cockle-warming keyboard fillers.

Were it not for Ed Sheeran’s 'Thinking Out Loud', this song would have been easily my favourite ballad of 2015. A vintage year!