What do you do when you’re in the biggest duo in country music and you’ve worked nonstop for a decade? well, in Sugarland’s case, you take a break. Four solo albums between Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush and other projects (acting gigs, production gigs) have allowed both to continue their creativity with both returning seven years after that break started. Bigger is a Sugarland record through and through and while Jennifer Nettles sings lead vocals like she always has, Sugarland partner Kristian Bush’s presence is felt in every thread of the music as he’s both a co-writer and co-producer with Nettles. Julian Raymond served as their co-producer on the project.
While teaser single “Still The Same” may have stalled inside the Top 30 at country radio, the real big single, “Babe,” has Sugarland back doing what they do, which is stretching the country radio format, with a big sing-a-long chorus and fast-rising the charts. The song is the lone outside track on Bigger and it features its co-writer, Taylor Swift. Swift co-wrote the tune with Pat Monahan of Train. The remainder of the album offers a lot of hope and inspiration to the folks on the margins and deemed ‘outsiders’ of the world. Songs like “Bird In A Cage,” “Tuesday’s Broken” and “Not The Only” reach levels here which work quite well in that context. The songs touch on subjects not often broached in country music (suicide, depression, LGBTQ, etc.). It’s daring for the band but given that Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles have felt like part of the same margins at times, it also makes sense. Songs which touch on relationships are equally present on the record with jovial melodies and lyrics found on "On A Roll" and "Lean It On Back" play off nicely versus the 'heavier' songs mentioned above while "Mother" works like the blend of both, with a story of unconditional love, acceptance married to a progressive, pulsating melody. This makes for a song which could be a big ole country radio hit if only radio would play songs like that these days.
Sugarland is one of the most-unique duo/bands in all of country music and with Bigger they prove why it’s great to have them back.