After spending some ten years on the road with her band Sugarland, Jennifer Nettles recently took a new turn in her musical career, announcing that she will soon release her very first solo artist. The songs were produced by Rick Rubin, though the album’s exact release date and title have yet to be revealed.
After previewing some of the songs for the press last week in Nashville, Nettles is now playing select shows around the country. Last night (July 30) she stopped by Bubble Charlotte, a champagne bar in Charlotte, N.C., for an intimate half-hour set, where she performed stripped-down versions of a handful of her new songs, accompanied by a single guitarist, for a small group of fans.
Musically speaking, “the ballads were deep but not overpowering” and “definitely rooted in country,” according to Rick McCracken, music director of Charlotte’s The New 103.7 (a Radio.com station), which sponsored the show. “The uptempo offerings were downright playful,” he continued, and as for Nettles’ vocal work, it was “mesmerizing” and “absolutely stellar.”
“I love what I do with Sugarland,” Nettles told the station during a backstage interview after the performance. “But I’ve been wanting to do this project for a long time and [I] have been writing for it for three years.” Which means, she got started right around the release of Sugarland’s 2010 album The Incredible Machine.
“There’s the sound we have in Sugarland, but there was something I wanted to do that was a different sound,” she continued.
Among the songs she played in Charlotte was “That Girl,” a song she co-wrote with Butch Walker that will serve as the album’s first single. The set, though, did not any Sugarland songs — nor did it include “Like a Rock,” her cover of the Bob Seger classic that Rubin allegedly encouraged her to include on the album.
The solo material isn’t the only new thing in Nettles’ life. The spunky country artist and her husband, Justin Miller, recently welcomed a son, Magnus Hamilton Miller, who is currently just 8 months old. So how does Nettles keep up with a successful music career, a marriage, a newborn and a national tour? “It’s like juggling,” she joked. “If you just keep the three of them in the air it’s easier.” But life on the road has been anything but restful and organized. “[I've realized] you don’t need near as much sleep as you thought you would.”
Thankfully, she isn’t stressing much about her upcoming solo release. “I feel confident in myself as a songwriter and a singer, but I’m nervous in a way you are when something’s important to you.”
- Jodi Phillips, The New 103.7 Charlotte