On its sophomore disc, Sugarland is one third lighter than the last time out. Now that Kristen Hall is out of the picture, Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush are left to carry on. But this new collection proves the act's smash single, "Baby Girl," was no fluke. A new one called "Want To," co-written with underrated songwriter Bobby Pinson, reprises the sort of detailed storytelling that makes country songs memorable. "You got a dream of a degree," Nettles sings, "And a shirt that smells like me." It's nothing fancy, but it paints an immediate, unmistakable picture.
"Happy Ending" tries a little too hard to make a big statement about social injustice, and does not play to Sugarland's strengths. It is good. It just isn't John Lennon good. Nettles' voice is as pretty as it is powerful, and that's a unique and highly appreciated trait. Although instrumentation is closer to the intersection of John Mellencamp and Sheryl Crow than Music Row, Nettles' twangy voice never sounds like anything other than an endearing country girl. On "Enjoy the Ride," plenty of Sugarland sweetness still lingers.