CD Review of Enjoy The Ride by Sugarland

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Enjoy The Ride
starstarstarhalf starno star Label: Mercury Nashville Records
Released: 2006
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I ain’t settlin’ for just gettin’ by
I’ve had enough so-so for the rest of my life,
Tired of shootin’ too low so raise the bar high
‘Cause enough ain’t enough this time.

So says the sultry Jennifer Nettles time and again in the opening track, “Settlin’,” an ultra-giddy call-to-arms that’s perfectly-suited for any country or crossover radio station in the land. Sugarland’s star, in fact, could not be any brighter these days. Having shed a layer in the past year and made do as a two-piece, the vital components, songwriter Kristian Bush and the leggy blonde singer Nettles, plod ahead with the new Enjoy the Ride and a full docket of concert dates. The only difference in 2007 will be them filling a headline spot rather than providing support for Brad Paisley or Kenny Chesney. Yep, it’s been a fast, furious ride from the coffee shops of Atlanta just two short years ago.

When they lost 50% of their songwriting capacity in Kristen Hall earlier this year, the pressure was on to follow up the mega-success of the debut Twice the Speed of Life, which spawned CMT smashes “Baby Girl,” “Something More,” and “Just Might (Make Me Believe).” But after a CMT-Crossroads segment with Bon Jovi – an ensuing friendship which led to the unlikely hit single and video “Who Says You Can’t Go Home”, landing Sugarland on Jovi’s latest album – and a slug of industry awards, and you no longer feel sorry for the changes Nettles and Bush have had to endure.

Enjoy the Ride breaks no new ground, but provides the same happy-go-lucky vibe that’s gotten these guys noticed by kids and old timers alike in Nashville. Picking right up where Speed of Life left off, instant sing-a-longs like “County Line” and “Happy Ending” should keep the bankroll fat and keep the seats full at their shows. Nettles’ southern charm and unfailing pipes are at the top of their game on the first single “Want To.” Hell, she even shows some skin in the new video, a must-see! She sharpens her claws on the gruff rocker “Mean Girls,” declaring, “Starts on the playground, pulling your hair, then in high school it gets worse from there.” But a weepy slide-guitar ballad, “April Showers,” will likely take them much further than the heavier stuff.

Sugarland is the epitome of new country – light-hearted subject matter, more pop than twang, and as much sex appeal as CMT will allow. Lost in their pretty cover photos and sexy videos could be Sugarland's ability to perform songs they've actually penned themselves- a lost art form, particularly in Nashville.

~Red Rocker