Showing posts with label jennifer nettles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jennifer nettles. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

video review: 'playing with fire' by jennifer nettles

Man, definitely a big surprise with this, and I'm a little annoyed I didn't get to it sooner - ton of fun.

Next up, Billboard BREAKDOWN, and then Maren Morris and probably Dan + Shay - stay tuned!

Monday, June 6, 2016

album review: 'playing with fire' by jennifer nettles

Let's talk about artistic maturity.

This is something I don't really delve into, but I think lurks in the back of the mind of most critics, that when they reach a certain age or state of life that their music is supposed to evolve or mature into something that's got a little more weight and wisdom and gravitas, particularly in the songwriting. Now of course you'll get acts that'll never change, or will approach middle age by going wilder than they've ever gone before - and all the more power to them - but it's a fair expectation that at some point, especially in more traditional genres like country, the artists begin to grow up.

And yet paradoxically, while I think this did happen to Jennifer Nettles, the former singer of pop country group Sugarland, I'm not really sure it was the best choice for her. I remember covering her solo debut That Girl in 2014 and mostly liking it, but her unique vocal tone always seemed more suited to upbeat quirkiness than downbeat, more adult-contemporary leaning country music - she wasn't Brandy Clark, after all. And so there's a certain sort of irony in noting that instead of changing direction when she left Mercury Nashville for Big Machine, Jennifer Nettles seemed to be doubling down, outright bringing on Brandy Clark herself to cowrite over half the album. Granted, she was also working with producer Dann Huff, who you could argue has definitely had a mixed legacy in country music, tending to play towards the poppy side and not really known for subtlety. But hell, it's not like Jennifer Nettles was ever known for that and working with Brandy Clark was bound to bring some of the gravitas or wit that was missing from That Girl, so how did Playing With Fire turn out?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

video review: 'that girl' by jennifer nettles

Well, that was a quick one. Next up is Jon Pardi, and then... well, I might have to put off Little Mix just to get up to date on the avalanche of albums coming out next week. Stay tuned!

album review: 'that girl' by jennifer nettles

Let's go back to 2010, specifically the mainstream charts. The club boom is in full force, and Ke$ha's 'Tik Tok' will top the Billboard Hot 100 Year End Chart. And even though 'Need You Now' by Lady Antebellum will be a close second, it's one of the few country songs that managed to run the gauntlet and chart at all this year. Say what you will about 2013's confused, often boring year-end chart, it at least had variety, which isn't exactly what you could say about 2010. And country barely notched anything on that year-end chart at all, the ones that did courtesy of pop/adult-alternative crossover success in the vein of Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum, and the Band Perry.

But nestled near the bottom of the chart was a fluke single from the country duo Sugarland titled 'Stuck Like Glue', which along with Orianthi's 'According To You' and Sara Bareilles' 'King Of Anything' stood out on the chart as being decidedly different. Now 'Stuck Like Glue' wasn't better than either of those songs, but it was definitely unique, half characterized by instrumentation that balanced quirk and accessibility and half by lead singer Jennifer Nettles' distinctly memorable voice. It's a bit hard to characterize: she sounds a bit like a country version of Shakira singing with gum in her mouth on that particular track, and though it was pleasant, it was peculiar enough to get distracting.

And yet, after Sugarland had their breakthrough hit on the mainstream charts, they didn't really do much else, mostly due circumstances outside the music, with a stage collapse in 2011 that killed seven people and Jennifer Nettles taking time off to have a baby. What's important to note, though, is that The Incredible Machine (the album 'Stuck Like Glue' was on) wasn't really well-received by critics - they called it a pop sellout and considered it a big step away from Sugarland's first three decidedly country albums. And thus when I picked up Jennifer Nettles' solo album That Girl, I wasn't sure what to expect. Would she return to her country roots, or would she continue in the pop-country direction that Sugarland had been on before?