Jennifer Nettles, ‘That Girl’
Taking a break from her Grammy-winning country duo Sugarland, Jennifer Nettles channels her inner ’70s singer-songwriter for this contemplative solo set. Produced by Rick Rubin, the 11 tracks — all written or co-written by Nettles and friends like Sara Bareilles and Butch Walker, save for a cover of Bob Seger’s “Like a Rock” — exude a living room hootenanny-style warmth. She hopscotches through ruminative acoustic remembrances (“Falling”), sultry torch songs (“This One’s for You”), and gospel-tinged weepers (“Good Time to Cry.”) A hushed hymn to the world opened up to her by the birth of her son, “This Angel,” and “Me Without You,” the ballad of the uncaged bird, are particularly poignant as she puts her big voice to good use in small, nuanced ways. She also takes things uptempo with “Know You Wanna Know” and “Moneyball.” While several tunes could appear on a Sugarland album, it is a less commercial, contemporary country-sounding release and there is a sense of individuality stamped on the songs. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Me Without You”
Nettles plays the House of Blues on March 8.