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On January 14, Jennifer Nettles will release her first solo effort, That Girl, produced by the legendary Rick Rubin and recorded in Malibu, California at the famous Shangri-La Studios. If that sounds far from Nashville and Sugarland, it’s because it most certainly is. On That Girl, Nettles flexes the vocal muscles that she honed with Sugarland, but also stretches past the limits of country music’s imagination.
While country purists and Sugarland diehards may question whether this album has something for them, the answer is absolutely yes. Look no further than the torchy ballad and album opener, “Falling.” The track’s skillful lyrics and huge building bridge would not have felt remotely out of place on any previous Sugarland release.
Following it in a one-two torchy ballad punch is “Me Without You,” an ode to empowerment and a seemingly impossible life after leaving someone. The track paints her as a “caged bird” spreading her wings, but also touches on uncertainty and an unexpected new life. It’s hard not to wonder if the track pays homage to Nettles branching out on her own, singing “I don’t know this road I’m on or where it’s leading to, but I know I’m gonna be alright.”
Although the two opening tracks seem to feel oddly familiar, the rest of the album veers into somewhat unfamiliar territory for Nettles. Although her voice is one of the most distinct of our generation, her rangy twang and intonation unmistakable, some of the tracks are quite the departure for this country girl. There’s the bluesy “Moneyball,” with a throwback vibe and jazzy timbre and the mid-tempo “Jealousy,” a tongue-in-cheek look at a perfect girl one can’t help but envy. There’s the piano ballad “This One’s For You,” which breathes of co-writer Sara Bareilles’ influence. There’s also a rather impressive cover of Bob Seger’s “Like A Rock.”
Listeners of any type will be delighted by “Know You Wanna Know,” an up-tempo satirical ode to a culture obsessed with celebrity. “It’s on every dot com, so it must be true, the internet wouldn’t lie to you,” Nettles laments amusingly in this ear-wormy track that immediately begs for audience participation. In contrast to that raucous track, there’s also the stunningly beautiful “This Angel,” which reads as a love letter to Nettles’ son, Magnus. This is the “Stay” moment of the album where Nettles’ heart is on full display, except it’s no longer breaking with pain, but bursting with unspeakable love.
While That Girl may perplex some country purists, Nettles’ distinct twang and powerful voice is at its finest on this album and she’s never sounded better. With her uncanny ability to curve and bend a word for every drop of emotion, That Girl proves Nettles to be a phenomenal vocalist, true artist and incomparable storyteller.
Country music certainly gave us many memorable moments over the last year. Whether it was new artists making their way into the industry, smash hits climbing the charts, notable feuds sprinkled throughout tabloids, or live television performances of classic Broadway shows, our beloved genre definitely did not disappoint. The staff here at Keepin’ It Country was incredibly fortunate to attend many live shows of some of our favorite artists throughout the last year, from which we brought our fans and followers real time coverage. We collectively compiled some of our most memorable live performance moments of 2013, which we witnessed as members of the audience. In reverse chronological order, we bring you Keepin’ It Country‘s first-hand year in review:
Jo Dee Messina - December 22, 2013, Casino Miami – In anticipation of her upcoming album, Me, Jo Dee Messina brought her show to Miami, Florida. In the review heard around the world (thanks to Jo Dee herself!), we excitedly reported about Jo Dee, whose vocals are deserving of a myriad of accolades, undoubtedly re-entering the country music scene with a bang. With stellar performances of well-known hits, sure-to-be future number ones, and incomparable covers, Jo Dee brought the crowd to its feet multiple times. Mark our words — 2014 will be Jo Dee’s year, and we cannot wait to watch her soar.
Kelly Clarkson‘s Acoustic Show for Green Mountain Coffee – October 10, 2013, New York’s Highline Ballroom – As the ambassador for Green Mountain Coffee, Kelly Clarkson went to Peru to learn about coffee farming and fair trade. She brought her newfound knowledge and out-of-this-world vocals to an invite-only acoustic show at New York’s Highline Ballroom. Joined by only a keyboardist and pair of acoustic guitarists, Kelly wailed through some of her biggest hits, her voice shining in the intimate space. Highlights of the show included a haunting, acoustic solo rendition of “Don’t You Wanna Stay?” and the fan request, “Sober.”
Brad Paisley at the New Yorker Festival – October 5, 2013, New York’s Gramercy Theater – This was a far cry from a usual Brad Paisley spectacle, but instead featured Paisley in an intimate setting, on-stage with only an acoustic guitar and interviewer, Kelefa Sanneh. It was much a storytellers night, as Paisley traded stories with Sanneh, intertwined with acoustic performances of both his biggest hits and some of his deepest cuts. The night also included an audience Q&A and insight into what was arguably Brad’s most controversial cut, “Accidental Racist.”
Jennifer Nettles for NASH-FM, August 17, 2013, Hill Country BBQ – It’s not every day that you get to catch one of country’s biggest names in the basement of a BBQ restaurant. However, it was Jennifer’s voice that overpowered the smell of ribs and pulled pork, as she performed a sampling from her forthcoming album, including the album’s first single and title track, “That Girl” while also trading stories with NYC’s NASH-FM’s Blair Garner.
The Band Perry – July 21, 2013, NYC’s Roseland Ballroom – The singing siblings rocked New York’s historic Roseland Ballroom with a polished and poised performance that would make even the most seasoned veterans jealous. Although their Pioneer album didn’t receive as much acclaim as it deserved in 2013, there is no doubt that the Perry siblings are here to stay with their dynamic stage presence.
Jason Aldean – July 20, 2013, Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois – In one of two memorable 2013 live moments selected by our staff involving Jason Aldean, we were lucky to be in the sold out Wrigley Field crowd. Jason, along with Kelly Clarkson, Jake Owen, Thomas Rhett, and Nashville’s first signed DJ, Dee Jay Silver, rocked Chicago like no other country acts have done before. Despite the pouring rain, the sold out crowd stayed put, drank, danced, and sang to their favorite Jason songs, including his award-winning smash hit duet with Kelly Clarkson. Even the White Sox owner, White Sox players, and Atlanta Braves players braved (pun intended) the rain and celebrated country music in the heart of Chicago on that stormy night.
Striking Matches, Ashley Monroe and Hunter Hayes – MTV’s Artist to Watch show – June 18, 2013, New York’s Webster Hall – Although the night belonged to Hunter Hayes, the highlights of this show were country duo Striking Matches and the woman behind one of 2013′s best country albums, Ashley Monroe. Although the show itself was a bit of a mismatch with the Hunter fans not paying appropriate respect to the openers, both Ashley and Striking Matches held their own. Ashley especially shined on the tongue-in-cheek, “Weed Instead of Roses” and her version of Jason Aldean‘s #1 hit, “The Truth,” which she co-wrote.
Cassadee Pope – June 8, 2013, Cruzan Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach, Florida – Cassadee Pope took the world by storm during Season 3 of The Voice as a member of Team Blake. Soon after being crowned “The Voice,” Cassadee hit the road with vocal superstar trio, Rascal Flatts. At her hometown show (which was featured on CMT’s Frame By Frame), Cassadee shared her talents with her family, friends, and fans. Witnessing this young artist catapult into stardom and return to her roots for the first time in a large venue was an absolute privilege, as Cassadee wow’ed her hometown with her stunning vocals and gave us just a small glimpse of what is yet to come.
Blake Shelton – iHeart Radio Show – March 27, 2013, iHeartRadio Theater – To go with the release of Based On a True Story…, Blake took the stage for iHeartRadio. The show was streamed online and included Blake’s biggest hits combined with some of his newer tracks. Definite crowd-favorites included sing-along performances of “Austin,” “Honey Bee,” and “Old Red.”
Jason Aldean – March 2, 2013, Madison Square Garden – It’s not every day that a country artist headlines New York’s legendary, Madison Square Garden. Joined by Thomas Rhett and Jake Owen, Jason owned MSG with his biggest hits, as the audience sang along and hung on to every word. Although he sang some of his newer hits, set list highlights included “Big Green Tractor” and “Amarillo Sky.”
Miranda Lambert – January 26, 2013 – Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City – Although there were no low points in Miranda Lambert’s performance at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall during the first leg of her Rocked and Reloaded Tour (with Dierks Bentley), it was her performance of “Over You” that left us speechless that night. Performing on the one year anniversary of the death of her childhood friend, Mark Adams, tears streamed down Miranda’s cheeks as she held the microphone out to the audience to help her through the song. And help her they did, singing back each word of “Over You” in a moment that gives me chills just thinking about it.
We bid adieu to a fabulous year of country music and eagerly look toward 2014. Country music continues to make huge strides as the years progress, and it is foreseeable that the next year will be filled with landmark tours, chart-topping albums/singles, and the continuance of country music flourishing as a whole. What were some of your most memorable concert moments of 2013, and what are you most looking forward to in the 2014 country concert circuit?
Jennifer Nettles has been hard at work on her much-anticipated solo debut album, That Girl, which will be released on January 14, 2014. The album was produced by Rick Rubin and recorded at the famous Shangri-La Studios in Malibu, California.
“I started writing this album three years ago,” shares Nettles. “I put no conscious guides or governors on the creation of this album other than to write songs that I want to sing. Working with Rick Rubin was a dream come true and the result is an album that plays to my roots – country, 70’s radio, gospel and singer songwriter.”
Nettles penned the majority of the album, with 10 of the 11 tracks being written or co-written by the Sugarland superstar. Collaborators include Butch Walker, Phillip Sweet of Little Big Town, Rich Marx and Sara Bareilles. The album also features a cover of Bob Seger’s “Like A Rock.”
That Girl Track Listing:
It’s been an active week in the Twitterverse, and at the center of the activity lie some of your favorite country artists. Let’s cut to the chase and laugh together at the best of the best that we caught over the last seven days.
When life imitates art, and art involves driving without hands, you end up in the predicament Luke Bryan ended up in this week. Luke Bryan tweeted “@LukeBryanOnline: Before y’all get out of your truck. Make sure you put it in park. Trust me.”
Some very solid words of advice from Luke. Perhaps he, too, had his hands up while rocking in his truck…
I just saw Runner Runner and had some pleasant Justin Timberlake inspired dreams soon thereafter. Apparently I’m not the only one, based on Jennifer Nettles‘ recent tweet – “@JenniferNettles: I had a dream last night that my baby sleeping beside me yelled out ‘Ladieeees and Gentlemen: Justin Timberlaaaaaake’. ??? @jtimberlake”
Not only is Justin Timberlake taking over the the music and acting world, he is taking over the dream world too. Hey, there are much worse people for your baby to introduce to you in your slumber.
Having 100,000 Twitter followers is a big deal. So, it should come as no surprise that some musicians will go through great lengths to encourage their fans to help them hit that landmark number. See Terri Clark who recently tweeted “@TerriClarkMusic: Ok so the first person to get me 100k twitter followers, gets my first born. Best hurry. My Ovaries=californiaraisinsdoingthebackstroke”
Perhaps an interesting offer, but if the kid pops out singing the way his/her mom does, it might be worth your while…
If you frequent the gym, you know there is always that character who flexes in the mirror and not-so-discretely checks himself out. Sunny Sweeney was lucky enough to spot that guy during her recent workout. Sunny tweeted “@GettinSweeney: The grunting slaps-his-stomach-in-the-mirror guy is in the gym. Yay! No.” Not long after Sunny tweeted, calling out the narcissistic gym-goer, she followed it up with “I also saw someone I knew in the gym. I hope he doesn’t think my last tweet was about him. Bahaha!!!”
Sir who Sunny knew in the gym, rest assure she was not mocking you. However, if you do, in fact, grunt and slap your stomach in the mirror, WE ARE mocking you.
Remember to send us your favorite country music celebrity tweets to us each week by including #KICcelebtweets in your tweet!
With her first solo single, “That Girl,” hitting iTunes today, Jennifer Nettles paid a visit to ABC’s Good Morning America to perform the track. The song tells the story of Dolly Parton’s famous character, Jolene, from Jolene’s perspective. It’s the first single off her forthcoming solo album, to be released later this year.
Watch her performance here:
Congratulations to Sugarland‘s lead singer Jennifer Nettles! She announced the arrival of her son Magnus Hamilton on her official website this morning. She made the announcement on her personal blog for her fans, and even sharing the first picture of her first baby for everyone to see (which you can check out below!).
She celebrated her first Mother’s Day yesterday with her 5-month old son and her husband, Justin Miller. Magnus Hamilton Miller was born back on December 6th, 2012, and the couple did not release the news or a picture until today.
In her blog, she wrote:
“On December 6, 2012 my life was forever changed. I had a baby! Magnus Hamilton Miller was born healthy, hungry and with way more hair than I was expecting after seeing baby pictures of both me and my husband. Needless to say, especially to those of you who have children, the rhythm of my life is way different than the movement and pace before baby. In short, this baby is the boss of me.”
Read the rest of her blog post HERE on her official site.
Congratulations Jennifer and Justin! We wish you all the best with your new family.
The 48th annual Academy of Country Music Awards are taking place this Sunday, April 7th, in Las Vegas. As we all know, the red carpet and stage fashion choices are some of the most talked about items when it comes to award shows. Back, due to popular demand, is our very own pre-award show fashion reminiscent feature! This time, we take a look at the couples and collaborations of ACMs past … and, boy, have there been some questionably horrific and unquestionably sensational choices in ACM history!
As you have likely heard, Clive Davis used nineteen pages of his memoir to share “stories” about Kelly Clarkson and his “experiences” working with her during her time under his wing. Mind you, we use the words “stories” and “experiences” loosely here, as Kelly rebutted the allegations Clive made in his book, explaining that his recollection contained “lapses and misinformation”.
You probably know that Clive Davis is a huge music mogul (and egomaniac?) who has been credited for many artists’ careers, including Aretha Franklin, Barry Manilow, Christina Aguilera, Carlos Santana, Jennifer Hudson, and the late great Whitney Houston. Clive has also been credited for his hand in Kelly’s career, before she parted ways after some artistic differences. Kelly, as you very well are aware, won Season 1 of American Idol and was catapulted into fame, never allowing anybody to change her or tell her there was something she could not do. And, not surprisingly at all, Kelly’s hunches have never served her wrong, as she continues to be a hitmaking, album selling, touring, award-winning artist over ten years after we first met her on the Idol stage.
Several artists have spoken out since yesterday when Clive’s memoir was released and Kelly spoke up about his “memories” of their encounters and working relationship. Martina McBride, Jennifer Nettles, and Chely Wright have all declared their membership on Team Kelly. So, we ask you — whose team are you on (Team Kelly or Team Clive) and which musicians have you seen vocalize where their loyalties lie? Help us figure out who will win this celebrity death match! Our money is on our girl, Kelly!
Here are just a few of our fave country celeb tweets:
@chelywright: I just listened to @Kelly_Clarkson sing the Anthem again.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfu… She’s IT! I believe her account over Clive’s any day
@JenniferNettles: @kelly_clarkson You could sing the phone book and it would be brilliant! Proud of you for speaking your truth. Solidarity sistah!
@LynnAshow (Lynn Anderson)
Team @kelly_clarkson ! “Because of you” was a beautiful song and u continue to compose and use those huge pipes to the top of the charts.
@leannrimes @blairgarner @kelly_clarkson love this girl!
@chantalkreviaz @kelly_clarkson loving your courage and truth!!! wow…inspired. xx chantal http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2013/02/19/dont-mess-with-texas-kelly-clarkson-has-a-few-words-for-clive-davis/ …
And just to be fair, here are some of our faves that support Clive:
And that’s that!
Christmas is coming a little early this year for Jennifer Nettles and friends. On November 3, Jennifer will host a CMA “Country Christmas” in Nashville, Tennessee at the Bridgestone Arena. Along with Jennifer, the following artists will be bringing the seasonal spirit to Nashville: Dierks Bentley, Colbie Caillat, Katherine Jenkins, Lady Antebellum, John Legend, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Scotty McCreery, The Band Perry and Keith Urban.