SINGLE REVIEW: Sugarland – ‘Still The Same’

Sugarland, the multi-award winning Atlanta duo, are baaaa-aaack!  And they’re heading to C2C this March. After a five year break, their up-beat new single, Stay the Same (released in December 2017), is a collaboration between country recording giants, Big Machine Records and UMG Nashville.

Formed in 2004 as a duo – between co-founders Kristian Bush and Kristen Hall – Jennifer Nettles’ arrival created a trio, until Hall left in 2005, to work as a songwriter. Sugarland returned to duo status, staring Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles, until they went their amicable separate ways after their fifth album release in 2011, the alternative, and steampunk-inspired, The Incredible Machine.

I’d heard Nettles first, back in 2006, as her energetic vocals played alongside Bon Jovi on their radio hit, Who Says You Can’t Go Home?, which reached number one in the country charts. Indeed, for me, country music is all about the strength of vocals amongst the female artists; I’ll take a country lass over a pop diva, any old day of the week.

But it wasn’t until last year that I’d really delved into the music of Sugarland, through Kristian Bush’s return C2C visit, this time headlining the CMA Songwriter’s series on the Thursday night. Nettles played the main stage in 2017, too, her voice clearly ringing out around the O2 on the Friday night, particularly when she hauled out the unexpected, but well-handled, Salt ‘n’ Peppa homage. I had, of course, heard Sugarland’s infectious Stuck Like Glue, the first single released on their last album.

The country-pop crossover new song Stay the Same offers no obvious seismic shift in their music; ‘This ain’t no mystery/Our future is our history’. Nettles’ fast-paced verses shine a light on likely conversations they held (possibly at C2C in 2017?) as they discussed their return to country radio, ‘what comes next/we don’t know, we’re not there yet’. Whatever the band create musically, I’m sure fans will delight as Sugarland no doubt debut new material alongside their classic hits on their late acquisition Saturday night spot on the main stage at C2C 2018.

Not long to wait now until country takes over London’s O2 Arena!

Emma Jordan