Sugarland has supplanted Brooks & Dunn as country’s reigning duo, but “Joey” is really all about lead singer Jennifer Nettles and her plaintive vocals on this country gothic mid-tempo ballad about loss and regret.
No, Sugarland isn’t covering Concrete Blonde’s hit, “Joey” (although they have no reluctance to delve into pop’s past as they showed on the recent CMT Awards when they duetted with the B-52s on “Love Shack”). But like that song, this “Joey” is about a love gone wrong…in this case, irretrievably so.
The title character had died in a car accident after a hinted-at argument and Nettles is left pondering all the what-ifs and how she could have prevented the tragedy by speaking up or taking the car keys. While tragic, the song never descends into maudlin.
Nettles and band mate Kristian Bush wrote the song, the latest single from the platinum “Love on the Inside,” with legendary 72-year old country songwriter/artist Bill Anderson, who is having quite the resurgence. The Grand Ole Opry member has written more than 35 Top 10 country hits, but has hit a new plateau in the last few years by co-writing Brad Paisley’s “Whiskey Lullaby” and George Strait’s “Give It Away.”
Melodically, the song has an alt. country feel that almost recalls R.E.M. in its jangly, ringing guitars. We predict another trip to the top of the charts for Sugarland. Nothing to be sorry about for that.