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Sugarland

Gold and Green – 2009 (Mercury)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Sugarland

Jennifer Nettles has one of the most distinctive voices in today's country music, which makes every thing she sings oh so easy on the ears. And with this 10-song holiday CD, Nettles never fails to please, vocally. So when one of these recordings is little more than Nettles singing, and sparse banjos backing (along with Kristian Bush's complimentary vocal), as happens with O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, it's a thing of simple musical beauty. Bush also takes a few lead vocals, but Nettles is still clearly the act's money player.

Sugarland gets both serious (Coming Home) and silly (Nuttin for Christmas). The duo is also sacred (Silent Night) and secular (Winter Wonderland). Nettles is at her best when she sounds undeniably Southern, in a recognizable Reba sort of way, which happens with Little Wood Guitar.

Although "Gold and Green" is by no means a Christmas time classic, it's hard to argue with its smart selection mix of familiar and unfamiliar, old and new. Even so, it'd be a treasure to one day own a disc filled with Nettles singing all those favorite yuletide chestnuts. Instead, we're left imagining what that great voice of hers would sound like while going through the Christmas carol section in the church hymnal. So for now at least, gold and green will have to do until we can fill out the rest of the Crayola box.