“Never be afraid to go into a room and write with people you’ve never worked with before.”
That’s the lesson Hillary Scott learned when she walked into a co-write her publisher set up for her last fall—the co-write that resulted in Lady A’s new ’80s-tinged shot of female empowerment, “Like A Lady.”
Scott found herself in a session with Michelle Buzz, Martin Johnson and Brandon Paddock—three writers she hadn’t previously collaborated with—and her longtime friend Dave Barnes. With the exception of Barnes, Scott was meeting her fellow writers for the first time that day. “It’s like a blind date,” the mother of three confesses. “You’re just getting to know each other and then just hoping, in this case, for a creative connection.”
Paddock and Johnson started building an energetic track, and the rest is history. “The second I heard it, I was like, ‘This has female anthem written all over it,’” Scott enthuses. “And so we just really dug into that goal of wanting to craft a song that would celebrate what it’s like to be a woman. And we were off to the races.”
Scott brought the demo to her bandmates, who were happy to back up their leading lady, despite the overtly feminine message of the song.
“Immediately, I was transported to the stage and summer amphitheaters,” the group’s Dave Haywood shares. “I think this is the song we hope propels us toward the end of the pandemic. We wanted to get some positive music out there as people start getting ready for shows again.”
For Lady A’s Charles Kelley, “Like A Lady” felt like the dose of joy the world needs right now. “I think in the past, we’ve overthought projects so much,” he admits. “And it’s like, man, if it makes you feel good, if you like it, if you dig it… We all were just sitting there going, ‘Gosh, this song’s a smash.’”
For “Like A Lady,” Scott steps out front “sippin’ on Tequila with her Levis on,” while harnessing lead vocals full of both strength and sass. And her longtime bandmates couldn’t be more honored to take a backseat to Scott’s moment in the spotlight. “I’m so proud of Hillary,” Haywood says. “Charles and I—in all of our masculinity—love singing along and singing harmonies to this tune. It’s such a jam, and we’re so proud of our girl on this one. She crushes it.”
The memorable opening line to “Like A Lady,” recorded at Nashville’s Blackbird Studio, is stacked 30 layers deep. The single—rife with richly-textured vocals—leads the band’s forthcoming project, the follow-up to 2019’s critically-acclaimed album, Ocean, which boasts their tenth No. 1 hit, “What If I Never Get Over You.” But don’t expect Lady A’s upcoming LP to be one summer jam after another. Kelley says from a sonic standpoint, the throwback style of “Like A Lady” is a bit of an outlier. He promises their new album will be a solid mix of introspection and lightheartedness—with the thread of Lady A’s signature harmonies tying it all together.
“There’s a lot of deep songs on this record and a lot of stuff that’s more reminiscent of what you’ve probably heard from us in the past. We felt that there was no way we could have gone through what we all went through this past year and not put that down in the music and go ahead and have it feel really present,” Kelley says of the as-yet-untitled album they’ve been creating with Dann Huff. “This is the most we’ve written in a long time.”
“Like A Lady” felt like a fitting introduction to their next musical chapter—one they hope to bring to life in a live setting very soon. “All of our creativity was poured into this new record in the hopes that we’ll be able to sing these songs live again,” Scott shares. “And so I think there was just this hopefulness and also this desperation of we’re going to keep doing what we love to do—what we feel called to do—even though we don’t know when we’ll be able to actually bring it to the world again.”