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Sugarland

Live on the Inside – 2009 (Mercury)

Reviewed by Rick Teverbaugh

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CDs by Sugarland

Often it isn't the material chosen or the sound quality that makes a live album good or poor, but the act being captured. To that end Sugarland isn't a good band at all to capture on an audio CD. The group's live shows are renowned, and anyone who has been to one and wants a reminder of that experience will love CD/DVD.

Yet those who just want to hear good music performed by Sugarland will be disappointed. On nearly every song, Jennifer Nettles asks for audience participation and readily gets it. But no matter how vocally correct the crowd is at the 5 different venues represented in this 10-song experience, it would be better to hear Nettles sing. It is mostly the reason that people purchase Sugarland albums.

The upside is the choice of covers, notably Pearl Jam's Better Man, REM's The One I Love and the B-52s Love Shack. All are just the right amount of faithful to the original and styled to fit Sugarland.

Because of the covers, some big hits are left off the CD, though they are included on the DVD, mainly Settlin, Want To and It Happens. Strangely enough, It Happens is included in audio only form at the end of the DVD. As a CD only, this package would fall short of the mark, but it's hard to quarrel with the overall value when adding in the DVD. The live show presented there sounds good and is gorgeously filmed. The disc certainly serves as an honest, live document of the vaunted Sugarland live experience. It just isn't the listening treat it could have been.