Sugarland’s Mash Note To Steve Earle Gets Raves From Music Writers

noah | July 22, 2008 11:00 am

From time to time, we like to round up the all-important, all-summarizing last sentences of the biggest new-music reviews. Today’s entry is by the Wayne Coyne-inspired pop-country outfit Sugarland, whose album Love On The Inside comes out in a “deluxe fan edition” today and a plain old edition in a week. (That’s one way to keep the people coming back to the record stores, I guess.)

• “Such maturity isn’t surprising coming from a singer in her early 30s who was working the Georgia club circuit for years before she, Bush and their former bandmate Kristen Hall hooked up with Universal Music’s Nashville division. It’s also just the sort of seasoning that enables Nettles to pull off the campy ‘Steve Earle.’ Equal parts mash note and send-up, the cantering romp has her dreaming of becoming the latest bride of the irascible troubadour, someone for whom ‘fallin’ in love is a pilgrim sport.’ The studio where Sugarland made the album, Atlanta’s Southern Tracks Recording, likely also was an inspiration. With a client roster that has included everyone from Jerry Reed and the Indigo Girls to Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M., Southern Tracks has gained a reputation, over the past four decades, for attracting artists like Sugarland with expansive musical palettes.” [Washington Post]

• “The stripped-down acoustic songs give Nettles the most room to show her talent, this time on the heartbreaking ‘Keep You” and the wise ‘Very Last Country Song.’ The duo also show some nerve, and plenty of wit, on the goofy ‘Steve Earle,’ about a woman pleading with the alternative singer-songwriter to fall for her long enough to write a great song about her. It’s in the moments when the band stretches that this million-selling duo paves a platinum road toward a long, sweet future.” [AP]

• “Although much of the disc is cut from the act’s most obvious available cloth, the fanciful, exuberant ‘Steve Earle’ is a fun departure, a slice of over-the-top role-playing in which Nettles builds an amusing character. The likes of the shimmering ballad ‘Very Last Country Song’ are less ambitious and more typical, but despite the duo’s penchant for hauling out the cookie cutter, the results are frequently something sweet.” [Hartford Courant]

• “With Love on the Inside, Ms. Nettles and Mr. Bush define and stretch their artistic boundaries, making Sugarland much more than a modern country sales commodity.” [Dallas Morning News]