After many months of anticipation and a good deal of fanfare, Jennifer Nettles finally released her first-ever solo record yesterday (Jan. 14). Titled That Girl, it was produced by Rick Rubin and features material the Sugarland singer has said represents her musical interests outside the group’s parameters.

As she explained in an interview this week with CBS Charlotte’s The New 103.7, she didn’t venture into this new recording because of any issues with Sugarland — she simply wanted to explore new musical avenues.

“I didn’t do a solo project out of the dislike for Sugarland,” she said. “I love that music and I love what we’ve done. And yet there was something else that I wanted to do, and feel that I want to prove.”

Nettles released her solo album’s first single, “That Girl,” last year, and it’s earned her plenty of attention among music fans and on country radio. As she explained, though, it doesn’t represent everything that the album encompasses.

“First singles are always so ridiculous to choose,” she said. “You feel like everyone then has no context for the rest of the album. And yet people think, ‘Is the whole album going to sound like this?’ Um, no. Actually, the whole album doesn’t sound much like it at all, because how can you pick one song that’s going to sound like everything?”

“That Girl” does, though, represent her knack for, as she described it, “digging around in the shadows.” Sort of an answer song to Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” Nettles’ song explores the character of the ‘other woman,’ who it turns out isn’t necessarily comfortable with breaking up anyone’s relationship.

For Nettles, writing a song from this perspective was interesting because, as she said, “I enjoy exploring the topics less explored. I think telling the same story over and over can get really boring to me, and I enjoy celebrating those different stories and characters. Because that’s life. Life isn’t always shiny and it isn’t always perfect. There are some stories that are worth exploring that can teach us about ourselves.”

Related: Jennifer Nettles Plays the ‘Other Woman’ in “That Girl” Video

Nettles is quick to note that she’s “never been in that situation” personally, as described in her song, “but it clearly is something that is super common. And who are we to judge at that point? Because everybody has a story.”

So if Nettles is focusing on her solo work now, what does this mean for Sugarland? Will she and her musical partner Kristian Bush reunite at some point?

“We left it open-ended [and] didn’t put a time line on that,” Nettles said of the duo’s future. “I hope I get to explore more within this solo project, and do some more albums that way. And yet when the time comes for [Sugarland] to come back together, I’m super excited to know what stories we’ll have and what we’ll have learned to share.”

– Kurt Wolff,


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