My Kind of Country

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

Single Review: Jennifer Nettles – ‘That Girl’

jennifer nettles - that girlOn her first chart outing as a soloist, Jennifer Nettles revisits the stuff of Sugarland’s awards show-sweeping “Stay”, which won Nettles half a dozen trophies as the song’s only writer.

In 2007’s “Stay”, Jennifer Nettles sang from the perspective of the longsuffering other woman.  In interviews, Nettles has said “Stay” was inspired by Reba McEntire’s 1986 hit “Whoever’s in New England”. She flipped the protagonist to the other woman, and the song was born. This time, Nettles has given “Jolene”, the redhead from Dolly Parton’s classic 1973 hit, her own voice.

“Stay” finds the other woman weeping and wailing and literally begging a man to stay with her.  “That Girl” finds the other woman reacting to her transgression with far more grace. The other woman in “Stay” pushes away a dead-end situation eventually, where “That Girl” finds her relatively unscathed and quick to retreat.

Producer Ruck Rubin has the whole affair played out in a winning minor key, with canned percussion and a gloomy-sounding bass.  As for Nettles, she’s singing with an appropriate loose efficiency – none of her trademark throaty twang –  for what she’s got to say, which goes something like: “I always kinda liked you. Sorry I slept with your man. He called me by your name (mine’s Jolene). Hope it’s all cool.”

Revisiting a classic country song is a different and unique idea for today’s mainstream country stars. Like the idea behind it, “That Girl” is a bit offbeat, but not without its charm and it’s well executed. It all works for me.

Grade: B+


One response to “Single Review: Jennifer Nettles – ‘That Girl’

  1. Jonathan Pappalardo August 23, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Great review, J.R. I’ve only head the song all the way through once (Monday on GMA) but I’m loving this so far. The concept is genius, and such a Jennifer Nettles thing to do.

    This three year break from recording seems to have provided her with some perspective on the ridiculousness of Sugarland’s most recent album. Even if this solo album ends up being sub par (which I highly doubt), by enlisting Rick Rubin to produce, she’s showing us that she’s trying to be more artistic and put in actual effort, which I appreciate. Five years has been too long a wait for excellent music from her.

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