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When Sugarland burst onto the scene late in 2004, the Atlanta-based trio gave country music fans plenty of reason to sit up and take note. Driven by powerful, heart-achingly beautiful lyrics and divine harmonies, the threesome tore up the charts with Twice The Speed Of Life, its major label debut.
But two million copies, three hits and more than a year later, founding member -- and songwriting powerhouse -- Kristen Hall parted ways with the band. While fans wondered what would become of the band sans Hall, remaining members Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush regrouped as a duo and began creating Enjoy The Ride.
The new album is not the same old Sugarland. It's not possible to strip away Hall's haunting vocals and remove her powerful lyrics and have the same band. As much as the previous incarnation gave a voice to singer Jennifer Nettles, the new Sugarland comes off as being her show. Nettles is obviously ready to step into her own, and with Enjoy The Ride, that's exactly what she does. For the most part, Kristian Bush's role is background vocals, guitars and mandolin. He seems a bit underutilized, given his talent, but that doesn't mean the album misses the mark.
Nettles and Bush collaborated on nearly all of the songs here, starting off with the spunky "Settlin'." Using many of the same musical hooks that made the first album such a hit, this festive song about knowing what you want and not settling for anything less is just plain fun. If this is Sugarland's new mission statement, it is one that is perfectly designed for success.
Although Sugarland enjoys having fun and delivers some great uptempo material, Nettles' voice is at its best when she slows it down. On "Happy Ending," they look at the universal need to find happiness. No matter what the endeavor or how far away the starting point is, we're born to dream about a grand finale. This song celebrates that ability to dream, and reinforces that, without dreams, we'd have nothing.
Sugarland balances out that notion with "These Are The Days," a terrific number about living in the moment. It is a love song that revels in the power of two, and it also stands out because it features Bush lending vocals as a duet rather than laying background tracks. There's a gentle innocence to this song that is soothing and refreshing, and makes for a terrific addition to the album.
"Mean Girls" is a spirited track about -- well, just what the name implies. It's one of the most fun songs on the album, and it points a finger at those girls who have it all and judge those who don't. This is a great slice of country music, delivered with the proper balance of twang and attitude.
The closing track reaches back into the Sugarland collection and pulls out a song by the same name. "Sugarland" was co-written by Kristen Hall and Kristian Bush, and it's a thoughtful, dreamy number about making plans to escape a small town -- only to fall in love and have those plans change. There's a fitting parallel for the band, whose plans changed dramatically after its first disc. And both in this song and in real life, they've definitely made the most of it.
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|Number of Discs:||1|
|Shipping Weight (in pounds):||0.22|
|Product in Inches (L x W x H):||0.41 x 5.66 x 5.09|
|6.||These Are The Days|
|7.||One Blue Sky|
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