My Kind of Country

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

Spotlight Artist: Sugarland

From the Atlanta underground scene, Sugarland was first brought to life by former member Kristen Hall.  In 2002, Hall contacted Kristian Bush about the possibility of creating a band together.  Hall had herself released a half-dozen assorted solo projects and Bush had found some success with the duo Billy Pilgrim, but both were now eyeing the country music umbrella as a release for their music.  When the two decided they needed a powerful female lead voice for the songs they were writing together, they immediately thought of a spunky blonde also making waves on the Atlanta club scene with her own band.  Jennifer Nettles had herself been busy fronting Soul Miner’s Daughter, a folk-rock, garage-band type outfit, and later The Jennifer Nettles Band before releasing 2 solo albums.  Nettle agreed to jump on board and the Sugarland trio was born.

Within a few short years, the band had a deal with Mercury Records’ Nashville office.  Their first single, a frank look at the ups and downs of a fledgling musician, shot to #2 on the country charts, and the pair were on their way.  Two more singles from that album reached the country top 10 and a fourth landed inside the top 20, while the album went on to sell more than 3 million copies.  During the chart run of the album’s third single, Kristen Hall abruptly announced her departure from the group, citing the desire to concentrate on songwriting as her primary reason for quitting.  Three years later, Hall would file a lawsuit claiming she was owed a percentage of all the group’s future royalties.  The suit was settled for an undisclosed amount earlier this year.

Now a duo sans Hall, the group’s second album, Enjoy The Ride, hit shelves in November 2006, propelled by the lead single, the smoking hot ‘Settlin’.  Both ‘Settlin’ and ‘Want To’ hit the top of the country singles chart, but the album’s fourth top 10 hit would prove to be Sugarland’s signature so far.  Jennifer Nettles plaintive delivery of the plight of the other woman with little more than her aching voice and an acoustic guitar instantly connected with a wide-range of audiences, and in addition to its #2 spot on the country chart, the song hit the top 40 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the U.S. Pop chart.  It would also be the duo’s first platinum-selling single.

2008’s Love On The Inside continued their run of country success with 3 consecutive #1 singles, a double platinum certification, and another round of industry awards.  2007 saw them dethrone long-running champs Brooks & Dunn for the CMA Vocal Duo of the Year award, a slot they’ve since repeated in 4 years running.  Love also found the pair stretching their musical muscles as they ably incorporated 80s rock, girl-band pop, and the best of modern Nashville, all to dazzling results.  Unfortunately the same can’t be said of their most recent release, the arena rock-influenced The Incredible Machine.  Still, the album’s first single, ‘Stuck Like Glue’, went to #1, and they’ve just released its best track as the follow-up single.

Irresistibly catchy melodies, simple, positive lyrics, and the throaty twang of Jennifer Nettles make up the basis of Sugarland’s distinctive and identifiable sound.  Kristian Bush adds milk and toast harmonies that more often than not, perfectly compliment Nettles lead.  The pair are also responsible for writing or co-writing nearly every song they record.  Their influences run wide, but their general sound found root in country music, and that allowed me to discover their music.  Keep reading this month as we look back over the past 6 years of Sugarland transitioning into the top duo in country music.

6 responses to “Spotlight Artist: Sugarland

  1. Pingback: Eddie Montgomery Announces Divorce; ‘Billboard’ Covers Miranda Lambert; ‘The Guitar Song’ Goes Gold | The 9513

  2. Pingback: Artist News » Spotlight Artist: Sugarland « My Kind Of Country

  3. Michael A. December 1, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    A fine selection. Sugarland, along with Miranda Lambert, have been my favorite new acts to emerge since 2000. I do hope they get back on track for the next album.

  4. Ben Foster December 1, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    I was a little surprised by this choice, seeing as Sugarland is still receiving a lot of critical backlash over their cruddy new album. But they have made some great music in the past, and even though “The Incredible Machine” was largely disastrous, it was still another demonstration of the fact that they’re not afraid to push boundaries (and it also had at least two good songs on it with “Stuck Like Glue” and “Little Miss”) Anyway, I look forward to reading.

    • J.R. Journey December 3, 2010 at 7:33 pm

      Like most listeners, I was turned off by the bulk of their latest album – you’ll read more in my review later this month – but I can’t discount one of the most interesting and engaging acts of the past decade for 1 sub-par album. They’re still one of my favorites out there, and I have a feeling they’re going to be toying with their sound for a while before settling on something long-term – this arena-rock stuff won’t be it either. Just my opinion …

      And thanks for reading … hope we don’t disappoint.

  5. Depressing quotes June 13, 2011 at 6:22 am

    This is an awesome blog. It helped me alot. Thanks for the information.

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