Last summer, Lady Antebellum was forced to take a break from the road for the most welcome of reasons - the impending birth of a daughter to singer Hillary Scott.
For a group that loves nothing more than making music, the other two band members - Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood - did what came naturally. They took the opportunity to hit the studio.
The summer break came only a couple of months after the release of the group's fourth album, "Golden." Initially, Lady Antebellum - which will perform March 12 at Taco Bell Arena - planned to return to touring behind the album last fall.
But when the summer break produced a batch of new songs, it created a dilemma.
"We're such studio rats - we love being in the studio," Haywood said in an early January phone interview. "And we went in there and really felt like, man, this feels like a whole fresh kind of sound of Lady Antebellum."
The trio wasn't quite ready to leave behind "Golden" and move on to a new album. But the time off had put a pause on any momentum behind the original "Golden" album, which had produced a No. 1 country single, "Downtown," but had seen the follow-up single, "Goodbye Town," stall out at No. 11 on Billboard magazine's Hot Country Songs chart.
The solution was to postpone the fall tour, add three newly recorded songs to "Golden" and relaunch the album as a deluxe edition.
One of the new songs, "Compass," went to radio ahead of the November release of the deluxe edition of "Golden." That song currently sits at No. 6 on Billboard's Hot Country chart.
Now Lady Antebellum is on the tour that was to begin in the fall, giving "Golden" a new promotional push. And the new songs, Haywood said, actually enhanced an album the band already felt was a strong effort.
"From our personal standpoint, we felt it ("Golden") was our best work," Haywood said. "We thought how can we add to this thing? What is that other big, fun live song that we want to have for the (live) show to kind of complete the record? So yeah, I think there was maybe one or two of those moments missing in the end for the album as a whole, so that's the excitement and reason we wanted to add a couple of more songs to it."
"Compass" should add a lively moment to concerts. It's a frisky and rootsy uptempo tune that is arguably the most bluegrass/ country sounding tune on "Golden." The other new tunes are band co-writes. "And The Radio Played" is a midtempo tune with an acoustic edge that pays homage to classic country radio. "Life As We Know It," meanwhile," is the kind of pop-country ballad that the group has always featured on its albums.
The new tracks add to an album that already was breezier and more uptempo than earlier Lady Antebellum albums, thanks to tunes such as the expansive and slightly edgy "Get To Me," the rocking "Better Off Now (That You're Gone)" and the soul-tinged "Downtown" - but also hewed closely to the pop country sound that has been the group's signature all along.
Of course, Lady Antebellum's earlier work should provide many other high points in the live show as well. The three earlier albums each produced a good number of hits.
The group's 2008 self-titled debut album sold more than a million copies, topped the country album chart and gave the group its first No. 1 country single, "I Run To You."
The title song from the second album, "Need You Now" - a song that the group didn't initially envision as a single - took Lady Antebellum's career to a whole new level. A huge crossover hit, it topped both the country and adult contemporary charts and hit No. 2 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart and then went on to win the 2011 Grammy for Song of the Year and Record of the Year.
The third album, "Own The Night," followed in fall 2011, and with the album producing two more No. 1 country singles, "Just a Kiss" and the title song, Lady Antebellum was ready to step up to being an arena headlining act.
The experience of its first arena headlining tour in 2011 and 2012 has paid off, Haywood said, in making for a more seamless, energetic and professional show for the current tour.
"It was really apparent during our rehearsals," he said. "I feel like we've really learned the pacing of a show and the journey you want to take fans through.
"(Rehearsing) was a much smoother process. I mean, we were all laughing about it. We were like "Man, it doesn't feel like it did that first tour when we were all stressed and nervous and going crazy trying to make sure these moments were right.' "