Welcome to The Singles Bar, a review series focused on new single and song releases.
“Life goes fast,” Jennifer Nettles unfurls on Sugarland‘s comeback single. “Still the Same” feels much more as a pick-up from their last body of work, 2010’s Incredible Machine, than a shimmering artistic feat. The accompanying visual confirms the song as a trip down memory lane, zipped up tight with vintage video footage and live concert clips ⎯⎯ it’s transparently simple, a vehicle through which to gaze their legacy. “Our future is our history,” Nettles later swoons, her vocal wrapped warmly in pop-country classicisms. “I feel alive / And can we try to leave it better than how it came / Don’t be afraid to change / Our love is still the same.”
Between the purr of guitar licks and the sturdy chemistry with partner-in-crime Kristian Bush, “Still the Same” could very well have fit nicely between “All We Are” and the titular cut to their last album. It’s shiny and accessible, and in the age of enduring nostalgia, Sugarland hit a syrupy-sweet spot. OK, so, the boundless tune is not a groundbreaking moment for the duo most known for such landmark hits as “Baby Girl,” “Something More” and “Stay,” but it is a charming reminder of their addictive nature. “We are thrilled for fans to hear our new music, especially this new single,” said Nettles in a press statement. “The title of the song is so meaningful to us as we want fans to know, we are still the same, we are still the same Sugarland they’ve known and loved.”
Later, a few key lyrics lock into the song’s driving force: “What comes next, we don’t know, we’re not there yet / But I bet it’s gonna shine better than all we left behind / In a room, in a blink, and now it’s like we never went a day without it / Pick it back up where we left off / This is lift off…” Where Sugarland go next is exactly a mystery, but admittedly, the landscape has shifted drastically since their last rodeo in 2010 ⎯⎯ Florida Georgia Line and Brothers Osborne were only a twinkle in some music exec’s eye. Radio is, at times, progressively hip-hop (Sam Hunt, Walker Hayes) or assuredly soulful (Brothers Osborne, Jon Pardi). But what part can Sugarland play? They’ve proved themselves once; now, they must prove they can play ball with a whole new audience.
Grade: 3 out of 5