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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Sugarland

Love On The Inside (Deluxe Fan Edition)

Review by Gary Hill

Those who read a lot of Music Street Journal articles probably know that country isn’t my first choice for musical genres. You probably also know that when it comes to country, though, I’d prefer the music to be true to its roots than to be rooted in the modern sludge called “pop music” where everything sounds the same. Well, I like Sugarland a lot. I liked their previous disc and this one is right up there with that one. Their music is not pure country, but rather than some romantic entanglement with pop music they seem tied to folk (ala the Indigo Girls) and classic rock. The combination works well and never seems strained or contrived. This is a great disc that’s sure to please the group’s fans, but might also get them some new ones, too.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
All I Want To Do
Bouncy and fun, this track is really a pop song with only the twang on the voice giving it a “country” element. I like the “ooh ooh ooh” chorus and the slide guitar a lot. This is a great way to start off the disc on a high note.
It Happens
The guitar part that starts this off reminds me a bit of something we might have gotten from Led Zeppelin in their more stripped down bluesy moods. The vocals come in and bring more country, but again this track has a definite pop rock feeling to it. It’s another fun track, but perhaps not quite as potent as the opener. The guitar solo on this one is a smoker. The outro is all 1970’s rock.

We Run
This is more stripped down and bluesy. It’s the first track on the disc that could be called “pure country.” It’s a good down home sort of track. There is a powered up chorus that’s closer to pop music than the rest of the track.
Joey
Here they do a great job of mixing a gritty country style with a more classic rock oriented arrangement. At times this reminds me of Lone Justice. At other points I hear Concrete Blonde (no, this is not a cover of their famous song by the same name).

Love
This has more of 1980’s alternative rock texture, but they still pull in enough country to keep it real. Believe it or not I actually hear hints of The Cure on the arrangement to this one. We get some gruff male vocals later in this piece.

Genevieve
Acoustic instrumentation creates a lively introduction. When it stops you almost think it might have been just a short little musical interlude. Not the case, though, they bring it back in and add the vocals. This is straight country music with some definite bluegrass in the mix. It’s homey and tasty.
Already Gone
This has less of a down home feeling, but it’s definitely all country. It’s another where we get some male vocals joining the female ones. “Already Gone” is less “pop” oriented than a lot of the material here, but it’s one of the highlights.

Keep You
A gentle ballad, this is perhaps more pure pop rock than a lot of the other material on show here. It gets more powered up at points. I like this one a lot.
Take Me As I Am
This is a killer country rock song. The verses are very countrified, but the chorus is an anthemic hard rocking powerhouse. The guitar solo segments are quite tasty, too.
What I'd Give
Much of this track is folky with a bit of a pop sensibility. We get a killer extended rocking guitar solo for the outro, though.

Steve Earle
A bluesy slide guitar leads us off and then they pull it into a rock and roll meets country shuffle. This has a definite old school texture and is both fun and a nice change of pace. It’s about as twangy as you get. The extensive “rap” later in the track is quite funny.
Very Last Country Song
I love the lyrics on this one. “But if lives stayed they way they were / And lovers never fell out of love / If memories didn’t last so long / If nobody did nobody wrong / If we knew what we had before it was gone / If every road lead back home / This would be the very last country song.” It’s a song about getting through the hard times and the changes in life. It’s a mellow number that’s very much pure country in its delivery. It’s also a highlight of the CD.
Fall Into Me
This beautiful balladic country piece might be my favorite track on the CD. It’s emotional and powerful and also very pretty. It gets quite dramatic at times and I love the acoustic guitar soloing on the outro.
Operation: Working Vacation
Here we have a very rock oriented track – sort of The Bangles go country.
Wishing
We get another country ballad here. This song is strong, but just not to the same level as some of the other material on the disc.
Life In A Northern Town (Live)
A country band covering Dream Academy – who would have predicted that? I like their version quite a bit. It’s both familiar and new. Isn’t that what a cover song should be? We get both male and female vocals and I’d say this falls closer to the genre of the original than it does to country music.
Come On Get Higher (Live)
This acoustic guitar driven jam reminds me a lot of the Indigo Girls. We get a harmonica solo here. We also get an audience sing along.
 
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