Merry Christmas, y’all, and happy Tuesday! The newest addition to our #MondayHeroes is coming in a bit late this week due to holiday craziness and December distractions, but don’t fret! This week’s featured artist is one of the most renowned country duos of the past few decades and they’re sure to give you all the hope, love, and feels you need to first burn out the rest of the 2017 with authority and then start 2018 with a freshly lit blaze. Today’s #MondayHero, comprised of singer-songwriters Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush, is Sugarland.
But why feature them now, you may ask!?! Sugarland hasn’t released any new music or toured in five years, you may say!?! Alas, you may be wrong. While Sugarland has been on hiatus since 2012, they just announced a few months ago that they have reunited in the studio and are working on a new full-length album!
Since the early 2000s, the trio of Bush, Nettles, and co-founder Kristen Hall had individually been staples in the Georgia-Tennessee music scene. While Hall had been a singer-songwriter with a solo career, Nettles and Bush had built their stage presence fronting two other acclaimed acts (the group Soul Miner’s Daughter, and the folk rock duo Billy Pilgrim, respectively.) After meeting one another and deciding to collaborate on their first EP in 2002, the new group, Sugarland, was contracted to Nashville label Mercury Records in 2004. The trio then found almost immediate success with their first studio record, Twice The Speed of Life, released in October of that same year. The album was later certified triple platinum by the RIAA and features Sugarland’s first four singles (all of which charted in the Top 20 on the US Country Charts).
Featuring a blend of softened, acoustic features with more lively, electric numbers, the band’s music meshes the real with the ideal. While the lyrics revolve around both life’s tribulations and triumphs, they do so in a seemingly euphoric and hopeful manner. Whether she’s describing bills to pay, fleeting love, or time flying by too quickly, Nettles’ iconic vocals undulate across the track in an ever-welcoming manner. Chances are good that you can relate to Sugarland’s honest direction, and even if you can’t you’ll feel like you want to.
Their following four studio albums over the next seven years included one Christmas album and a plethora of other chart-topping hits, including five number ones and a handful of Top 10’s. Every one of Sugarland’s studio albums as well as their 2009 live album has peaked at either #1, #2, or #3 on the country album charts and the group’s 2010 single “Stuck Like Glue” even reached #18 on the US all genre charts (in addition to posting #2 on the US country charts), displaying the group’s eventual shift into the cross-genre country-pop environment.
However, up until a few months ago the super affable and talented Sugarland was still a name of the past — an archived act. The group went on hiatus in 2012 for a variety of reasons, including Nettles’ pregnancy, but now in Dec. 2017, they’re back! Around Thanksgiving of this year Sugarland officially hinted on social media that they were back in the studio together and working on new music. Their reunion’s debut single “Still The Same” was released this past Friday and serves as a glorious reminder of the group’s power, precision, and purity.
Over the years Sugarland has morphed and molded but at the end of the current timeline their meaningful songwriting, energetic performance, and flawless production makes them one of the most timeless acts in modern country music.
Let’s take a closer look:
- “Baby Girl” (2004) – As the group’s first charting single, the song is groundbreaking on more levels than one. While on a personal level it catapulted Sugarland into the country spotlight and established them as a group to be reckoned with, it also served the country community as a whole. All of Sugarland’s songs, “Baby Girl” included, are penned by Bush and Nettles, and this one additionally had the help of original member Hall as well as writer Troy Bieser. Describing the seemingly-endless journey of an aspiring musician trying to make a living, this song showcases Nettles’ vocal prowess and Sugarland’s impeccable harmonies. This song right here is what makes country powerful, hardly-hateable, and very relatable.
- “Speed of Life” (2004) – This fast-paced track from their first album features Bush’s pulsating guitar riffs beneath Nettles’ belting vocals. Being the title track for the album, this song honestly showcases Sugarland’s true identity from an early stage. Telling a story through their energetic music, this group loves to put their thoughts to paper and then put their paper to music.
- “Stuck Like Glue” (2010) – As a front-runner for their most famous song, this track demonstrates their progression as a group throughout their career. While the song’s theme is in line with most of their library, the song’s performance takes a slight turn from early Sugarland material. Bush’s supporting vocals become more centrally-focused throughout the course of the song and the bridge section towards the end highlights the experimentally progressive nature of the band. This song could be seen as a risky maneuver for the duo, but high-risk means high reward.
- “Still The Same” (2017) – As their first studio single since 2012, this song eases back into the Sugarland we know and love. Starting off with Jennifer’s dearly-missed voice over a soft acoustic guitar, the opening verse’s “Where have you been?…….Where are we now?” hits very close to home. After half a minute of her mesmerizing vocals, the full band enters with a bang and all of a sudden the five year gap seems like nothing but a short vacation. If the new record sounds anything like this first single, we can’t wait to hear it.
See you Friday!