Single Review: Little Big Town - "Pontoon"
By: Bobby Peacock
Little Big Town's career has been, to say the least, a tale of ups and downs. After a false start with Monument Records, they caught on in late 2005-early 2006 with "Boondocks," easily one of the most tuneful rural pride anthems ever to come out of Nashville. The corresponding album went platinum and spawned 3 other Top 20 hits, but their second album got caught up in the closure of Equity Music Group, and switching to Capitol did nothing to reverse the momentum. Capitol did get a big hit out of them two years ago with "Little White Church," but "Kiss Goodbye" was perhaps too radio-unfriendly to be a hit.
That said, Little Big Town is back again, and I'm hoping it's for good this time. After working with Wayne Kirkpatrick for their last three albums, the vocal quartet has switched to Jay Joyce, best known for his work with Eric Church. Joyce has a knack for unusual production, and it's well exemplified here. Karen Fairchild's lead vocal has a heavy reverb effect, which mixes in excellently with the hi-strung guitar, drum loop, organ and, oh yeah, her three bandmates' earthy harmonies. Like most summertime anthems, "Pontoon" isn't very deep, but it sure sounds fun. Lyrics like "Just don't rock the boat while I barbecue," "Don't drink [the beer] if the mountains are blue" and "Jumpin' off the back, don't act like you don't want to" have a sense of playfulness that make the mere act of riding on a pontoon sound like a blast.
Summertime anthems usually do well in general on radio, so I have no doubt that "Pontoon" will be a big hit. A couple more follow-ups of this caliber, and Little Big Town should finally see the end of its "one step forward, two steps back" pattern. Even with a new man behind the boards, LBT is offering something new and unlike anything else out there now — and that's always a plus in my book.