With Sugarland currently on hold, both Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush are doing solo work. Luckily for us, Jennifer wasted no time in getting her solo debut to fans. Recorded in Malibu with Rick Rubin (Tom Petty, Eminem, Lady Gaga) producing, this isn’t your traditional country album. Even as Sugarland, Jennifer has been known to blur lines between genres. She described it in one interview as a spillover effect – as she grows as an artist, so does her sound and her lyrics. You can only fill a coffee cup so much before it will spill over.
Jennifer tracked 21 songs for the project live in studio. She told Billboard in an interview, ” To me, it’s almost ridiculous that we have to [say] that this album was recorded live. I don’t know how I could have done one otherwise. As a singer-songwriter, and being who I am as an artist, the idea of walking into a studio with a collection of tracks with musicians whom I have never met –- that never occurred to me. That’s not the way I would want to go about it.” The live studio leaves a raw touch to the album as you can hear talking, chairs, and other background noises in many of the tracks. From the 21 songs, we get 11 that are That Girl.
The album kicks off with “Falling,” a track inspired by a game of ‘telephone.’ Jennifer was given a piece of artwork and in turn was asked to make art herself – this time musically – which would then be passed on for someone to make another form of art. What we get is a tale of a summer love coming to a close. The start of a guitar and vocals pulls you in until drums and piano kick in to tell the story of the love.
We get a raw version of Jennifer on “Me Without You” and “This Angel.” The first about becoming a better person and being able to fly away from a relationship. “This Angel” is about finding the strength from within to welcome hope. The chorus reads “Holy water from my own veins / come and save me where I lay / this longing for beauty unnamed / it has broken me open to welcome the hope / that you bring.”
“Moneyball” and “Jealousy” bring out yet another side to Jennifer. These upbeat tracks are two of my favorites on the disc. “Moneyball,” written with her guitarist Scott Patton, is about things being bigger than yourself. It takes a more comedic turn as it talks about emoticons replacing high fives and youtubing historical events, but in a thousand years we will be gone and someone else will be responsible for the change. “Jealousy” was described to Billboard by Jennifer in this statement “There’s something so yummy and decadent and unapologetic about it. I want to wear a scarf, have a drink, or be on a yacht somewhere. It’s such a fun song.” It is an early favorite among fans as she toured with this song at private radio events throughout the US last year.
Of course the namesake of the album “That Girl” was released to radio last August. Subtitled “The Ballad of Jolene” by Jennifer, this different take on a cheating relationship is full of her emotion and showcases her vocals.
10 of the tracks were written or co-written by Jennifer. You might know some of her co-writters including pop star Sara Bareilles and Phillip Sweet from Little Big Town. Sara helped Jennifer pen “This One’s For You” – a love song used to describe feelings that can’t always be said. “Thank You” was written with Phillip and the title gives it all away! It’s a song about giving thanks. “A lifetime to count the ways wouldn’t be enough to say I thought that you should know how much you’ve helped me grow.”
“Know You Wanna Know” pokes fun at the need for everyone to get in everyone’s business. Twitter trends, DUIs, boob jobs, sex tapes nothing is off limits in this song! On the opposite spectrum of emotions, the final song penned by Jennifer is “Good Time To Cry.” The song brings even more emotion and soul to the album before closing with a killer cover of Bob Seger’s “Like A Rock.”
The album will be available tomorrow, January 14th for purchase but you can pre-order the deluxe edition on iTunes today or pick it up at Target featuring two bonus songs, “His Hands” and “Every Little Thing” on release day!
More information on Jennifer’s “That Girl Tour” here.
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