Sugarland's current single, "Babe," was written by Taylor Swift and Train's Pat Monahan, and given to Sugarland by Swift – an unexpected offer both Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush were happy to receive. But when Swift then offered to sing on the song with them, Nettles and Bush were both stunned, and grateful.
"In a very generous gesture she first offered it and said, ‘Look here is the song how I have presented it before. Listen to it. If that fits with what you’re doing I’d be happy to be a part of this with you,'" Nettles recalls. "And so we were like, 'Taylor Swift’s gonna sing on our record. OK, well, let’s see.'”
Bush, a veteran producer (who produced Lindsay Ell's recent famed The Project, among others), immediately began trying to figure out how to make Swift's suggestion actually work on the tune.
"Here’s a real conversation. How do these two voices fit together from a producer standpoint?" Bush questions. "That’s a lot of the language I speak, because she has this particular voice and Jennifer has a particular voice and they’re both very identifiable, which is kind of one of the fun things for me on this particular song. If you were to play it for someone who didn’t know, at what point does the needle go, ‘Oh! I know who that is.’ And how fun is that?
"Wouldn’t that be cool if somebody found Sugarland because they heard somebody that they went, ‘Oh my gosh I love that. That’s my favorite artist of all time,’ suddenly found their way into our world?" he adds. "We accept."
"Babe" is just one of 11 songs on Sugarland's recent Bigger album, which marks their first record since The Incredible Machine was released in 2010.
“This album seems really special," says Bush. "You say that about all of them, but this one really, because of the speed at which we’ve written it and the speed at which we’ve recorded it, it’s really given us the opportunity to almost stop getting in the way of it. So it exists naturally based on our instincts more than anything else. And when you boil it down to what an artist is, it really is whatever their instincts are.
"And Jennifer’s instincts to sing and my instincts to play, they drive everything else," he continues. "It was amazing to be on the floor watching five, six people play at the same time and Jennifer sing down the version of the song you’re going to hear. Not many people do that anymore and that’s a real gift that we have that kind of talent inside this band. But it’s also really revealing emotionally. These songs are getting the very best they can get.”
Sugarland are currently headlining their Still the Same Tour. Dates can be found at Sugarlandmusic.com.0comments
Download "Babe" on iTunes.
Photo Credit: Getty images/Christopher Polk