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Sugarland

BIGGER, Louder, Live – 2020 (Big Machine)

Reviewed by Andrew Greenhalgh

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CDs by Sugarland

It almost goes without saying that in today's fickle music world you have to constantly be atop your game, generating new content lest your listeners move on to the next selection in their Spotify shuffle. Thus, artists can't be content with dropping a new album every year or two and resting on their past accomplishments; now they've got to churn out EP's, live recordings and more to keep their audience satiated and satisfied. Realizing this truth, country duo Sugarland fights back with the energy-laden EP, "BIGGER, Louder, Live." Featuring three tracks, the EP, recorded live at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena, captures a great live feel, complete the just the right mix of playful banter from the stage, audience excitement and plenty of Sugarland charm. Lead singer Jennifer Nettles' familiar twang colors the big, bold notes of "On A Roll (Live)," her vocal smile burning bright as she drops the spoken word rap through the bridge. That same spirit follows through to the electric-pop country of "Bigger (Live)," the production allowing some subtle crowd noise to filter in, lending the listener that front row feel while Nettles and Kristian Bush's harmonies blend effortlessly. Closing out the set is the Taylor Swift-penned "Babe," and the duo nails it with studio-like efficiency, hitting all the right notes. But this is still just a set of three live songs, and three songs we've heard before. Which, for longtime die-hard fans should be well received, to be sure. For Sugarland hasn't lost a beat, and their live production sounds as good as, if not better, in some instances, than their studio work. But despite all the points to the positive, these songs just register as okay, perhaps because we've heard them before, maybe just because we were hoping for something a bit more fresh from the talented duo.