When Sugarland burst on the scene in 2004 with “Baby Girl,” the song stood out because of vocalist Jennifer Nettles’ elated, woman-power delivery. It just felt like a song a female needed to sing. But Kristian Bush all but dispelled that notion when he reimagined the mid-tempo anthem by adding a bit of manly baritone this week on the Grand Ole Opry. Watch the performance above.
With his own debut solo single, “Trailer Hitch,” making an impact at country radio — it currently resides in the Top 30 on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart — Bush has been gaining new fans who previously only knew him as the guy in the hat in Sugarland. He says his upcoming album, titled Southern Gravity, will further surprise listeners upon its release in the spring.
“It is very much like a ‘Hello my name is’ sticker. But it is very validating to hear people hear my voice and say, ‘Oh my god, I love the way you sound,'” Bush recently told Rolling Stone Country. “And a lot of these are fans who are fans of Sugarland for so long and they just didn’t know [I could sing].”
Southern Gravity, also a song on the album, is Bush’s homage to his Tennessee and Georgia roots, a celebration of all things south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
“The writing process for this record has been about two years long, and it’s taken me to Stockholm and London and L.A. The first thing people say to me when I get there is: ‘Tell me about the South before we start writing. Why is the food so much better? Why are the girls so much prettier? The culture so much richer? And why is all the music that we love coming from there?'” he says. “So I decided to write a song about that. That’s what this song is, it’s about what the South is today. It’s kids with tattoos, and parents, and struggles and dreams. It may not be what you think it is. But it still has barbecue on it…. It’s one of those things that you don’t expect, but once you get here, you start to realize what the South is about.”
Bush, who released a wild zombie-themed video for “Trailer Hitch,” directed by Blake Judd (Blackberry Smoke’s Leave a Scar live DVD), is currently on tour. He will perform his annual Thanksgiving shows at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, Georgia, on November 30th and December 1st.