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Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles Recording Solo Album With Rick Rubin

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Jennifer Nettles

Jennifer Nettles (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

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It hasn’t been even a week since Jennifer Nettles tweeted out some cute photos of her with her five-month-old son Magnus, but now the Sugarland singer has unveiled the news that she is working again. Specifically, she is in the midst of recording her first solo album. And the man helping her with songs and production on the project is none other than Rick Rubin.

“I’m super-respectful of his pedigree,” Nettles says of Rubin, who has worked with such artists as Johnny Cash, The Band Perry, Neil Diamond, the Dixie Chicks, the Beastie Boys, Slayer and Tom Petty. “I still get nervous around him, in a kind of a music-crush way.”

The album, Nettles’ first without her Sugarland partner Kristian Bush, has no official release date yet, or even a title, but according to Rolling Stone it is due sometime this fall.

“This album is different than what I’ve done before,” Nettles told Rolling Stone. “What I do with Sugarland, primarily it’s stuff that starts with me and Kristian [Bush, Sugarland co-founder] writing together. It’s fun to play with that masculine energy, but for this I wanted to do something really personal – more intimate and emotional.”

While she is writing songs on her own this time (as well as working with the likes of Butch Walker and Sara Bareilles), she also says that the new music “won’t be a shock or surprise to a Sugarland fan.” At the same time, though, “hopefully it will bring in new listeners, too.”

The recordings so far have taken place not in Nashville but at Shangri-La Studios in Malibu, California, with such rock-oriented musicians as Ian McLagan, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, bassist Jason Lader, Matt Sweeney, and guitarist Smokey Hormel.

“I put those people together to really get the sound of people playing in a room,” Rubin explained. “So much music today is done on a grid, played to a click track, perfectly in time. For Jennifer’s album, we wanted a different, more intuitive and improvisational energy – we were searching for live inspirational moments.”

Rick Rubin

Rick Rubin (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Rubin previewed some of the songs for Rolling Stone, whose writer described the material as including “close-miked acoustic guitars, funky grooves reminiscent of the Band and raucous honky-tonk piano.” As for Nettles’ vocals, they were “simultaneously more powerhouse and organic than she ever has on record before.”

“It’s a celebration of my roots, and where I am today,” Nettles said. “It reflects a more soulful, grittier life. A lot has been lived in the time between the last record I made and now, and you can hear that.”

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