My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Single Review: Sugarland – ‘Keep You’

Sugarland Keep YouJennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush of Sugarland tried to write an “emotional song about being numb,” and the product of this little exercise is their new single “Keep You”. (The music video premiers on CMT on October 2nd) What strikes me most about the song is about how it builds steadily. It starts off with a quiet acoustic guitar, then adds in a little more with some piano and drums then keeps growing until it builds to the climax, accompanied by some nice strings in the background- but never too much.

Nettles gives this song all she’s got, showing off her vocal range in the chorus with a wonderfully vulnerable performance. It’s also great how right after she goes high in the chorus, it drops down low again as she sings the titular phrase:

What do I gotta do?
What do I gotta do to keep you?
What do I gotta do to keep you from doing this to me?

The lyrics really show how one can feel so much while feeling nothing at all, the numbness that pervades after a big loss. The lyrics are beautifully written and mostly avoid the cliches that radio seems to be riddled with today, making this very fresh.

One thing that still bugs me is the complete absence of Kristian in any vocals from this song- I wish he could sing a little more, but it doesn’t affect the quality of this song in any way, thankfully. He at least had some vocals on their past couple singles, but he plays no vocal role whatsoever here- even though he co-wrote and plays in the song.

“Keep You” is by far one of my favorite Sugarland songs, even though it falls as more acoustic pop than country. However, it’s got enough heartbreak and some good lines (“Tried our hand at magic / but we couldn’t make us disappear”) to sit as one of my absolute favorites. This is the rare song that gets shipped to country radio today that still has some quality left! Honestly, I’m also pretty glad that Sugarland is putting out a new music video because their last video (For “Already Gone”) was released in September of 2008! Unfortunately this means that “Very Last Country Song” may never be a single, which is a shame.

Grade: A

Written by: Jennifer Nettles, Kristian Bush & Bobby Pinson

Listen to “Keep You” here.

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4 responses to “Single Review: Sugarland – ‘Keep You’

  1. Andrew September 26, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Best Sugarland song….EVER!!
    These guys really know how to make heartbreakers.

  2. Bob September 26, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    I really like “Keep You” but my favorite track is the other song you mentioned, “Very Last Country Song”. In the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it department”, I disagree with your desire for more vocal participation by Kristian. Love on the Inside in my view is the best album of the first decade of the 21st century. There are about ten songs (if we’re talking about the deluxe edition) that could have been singles.

  3. Tom November 20, 2009 at 6:37 am

    I really love “keep you” the live performances by Jennifer are just amazing. “Very last country song” has been one my favourties for ages though and a video for that would have been amazing, can still hope though!!

  4. Kayla February 9, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Awesome song!

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