Single Review: Jennifer Nettles – ‘Unlove You’
January 12, 2016
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I first became hooked on Jennifer Nettles when Mercury Nashville released ‘Just Might (Make Me Believe)’ to country radio ten and a half years ago. Nettles’ voice was butter wrapped in organic mandolin. It was nothing short of a killer record. “Want To,” which came just eleven months later, duplicated the magic with ease.
No one will argue that country music has significantly changed in the decade since and not for the better. Nettles has continued to play the game, with mixed results. She’s ditched the organic elements that gave flavor to Sugarland’s early ballads in favor of inching closer and closer to pop/rock territory. All the while she’s continued to pledge her allegiance to country music.
So, why has it come to this? Her new single “Unlove You” is about the most flavorless and generic Nettles has ever been. I don’t feel the immediate emotional connection I got when listening to ‘Just Might (Make Me Believe)’ or ‘Want To.’ Her vocal is fine, indicative of the pop/rock styling she adapted for Sugarland’s masterpiece Love On The Inside. But I want to feel something. For me, ‘Unlove You’ is the type of song you hear once and then forget about as soon as you hear it.
I don’t expect Nettles to revert back to a Sugarland of old that’s been dead for more than five years. She’s a solo artist now and deserves to find her own identity. But I at least want a similar level of passion that she gave to those early hits. Then maybe I’d be able to connect on at least some level with the song.
‘Unlove You’ isn’t the worst song I’ve ever heard. It’s weaker than should be expected from a Brandy Clark co-write, but it isn’t dreck. Its just meh.