Enjoy the Ride by Sugarland

The double-platinum success of Sugarland’s 2004 debut, Twice the Speed of Life, was all the sweeter for the refreshingly organic feel of the music it contained. The three singer/songwriters who made up the group had all risen through the Atlanta acoustic music scene, and the songs on Twice effectively balanced the innately warm, personal sensibility of their mostly group-written songs with a modern country kick.

Now the balance is a little different. Founding member Kristen Hall departed in January, and remaining Sugarlanders Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush have filled the songwriting vacuum with Music City tunesmiths who bring a slicker, more calculated feel to the now-duo’s nonetheless appealing sophomore effort.

The balance has also changed in the performance, with the spotlight falling more squarely than ever on lead singer Jennifer. Her dazzling vocal fireworks continue to elevate Sugarland above most of the competition, but it’s hard not to miss Ride’s absent passenger.

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