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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon October 14, 2009
Prime Cuts: Little Wood Guitar, City of Silver Dreams, Nuttin' for Christmas

Christmas CDs are a knotty affair: almost every successful artist is mandated to release one yuletide offering nowadays whether or not the set is birthed from the heart. With 5 number 1 hits, 3 multi-platinum albums, and a prime time TV special, success certainly has been a close relative of Sugarland. And like many country superstars, they have been lobbied by their record company to cut a seasonal effort as a stop-gap album in lieu of a brand new studio CD this year. Yet, this duo has not treated this as a contractual CD. Rather, on this hybrid effort, they have invested 5 original tunes, some of which are among their most heartfelt compositions. Even when they tackle the seasonal chestnuts, they have endorsed their interpretations with innovative creativity. Bursting the seams of genre classifications, these 10 cuts are made so much more interesting with doses of r & b, jazz, pop, country rock as well as even some traces of bluegrass.

The set's opener "City of Silver Dreams" is an instant heart grabber--a polished country pop ballad about a wide-eyed country girl's first Christmas in the urban jungle of New York City. Jennifer Nettles' heartfelt delivery emotes in convincing ways the loneliness of being homesick that truly staggers the heart. "Little Wood Guitar," written by Ellis Paul and Kristian Bush, is a finely honed narrative piece telling the story of how a girl's life changed since she received a guitar as her only gift one Christmas. Yet not is syrupy sentimental; Sugarland shows that they know how to have fun with "Nuttin' for Christmas." Cute, fun, and definitely catchy--Nettles truly sounds like she's having fun and easily "Nuttin' for Christmas" would rock well in the ranks of classics such as "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and "Jingle Bells." However, not all the originals are of that lofty in standard: "Maybe Baby" sounds like a track from their standard album with "Christmasy" references tagged on. While "Coming Home" is pretty average this time finding the duo in r&b territory with a light touch of Gospel.

As for the seasonal favourites, Sugarland does step out of the tried and tested box. This duo gives "Winter Wonderland" a country boogie makeover that is infectious. While most renditions of "O Come O Come Emanuel" are dirge-like slow, Sugarland offers a bluegrassy take of this hymn making it sound like a rootsy Southern Gospel revival number. Never to be restrained by the language barrier, "Silent Night" is sung bilingually in both English and Spanish. This time "Silent Night" finds Jennifer Nettles trading lines with Kristian Bush making one wish they would sing more duets together. Kristian Bush again returns to the microphone to sing lead on "Holly Jolly Christmas" which is quite jovial without being exceptional.

Relative to most Christmas CDs out there, "Gold and Green" shows personality. More than just a holiday album, this is very much a Sugarland record. They have left their patented mark all over. Even the traditional old favourites have been re-vamped. However, like their studio albums, with the originals coming mostly from their own pens, some of them become pretty average pop country efforts. Other than that, "Gold and Green" is much more than your average sonic ornament.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2009
The traditional covers are done in only a style that Sugarland can do (complete with verses of "Silent Night" in Spanish). It is amazing! But the songs that shine the brightest on this album are the brand new holiday songs. "Coming Home" has a very blues/soulful sound to it and is reminiscent of the Jennifer Nettles Band-style music. My favorites are "City of Silver Dreams" (the perfect holiday song), "Coming Home" and "Little Wood Guitar".

Yes - these may be "Christmas" songs, but the new original songs on here transcend religious beliefs. They are truely year-round songs of family, love, gratefulness and dreams.

This album is magical from start to finish! Make sure you buy some extra copies - they are perfect hostess gifts or stocking stuffers and everyone will love it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2009
With holiday shopping beginning earlier every year, why not have some fresh Christmas music to spur it along...enter Sugarland's 10 song cd Gold and Green. Actaully, 5 of these tracks have been previously released as a bonus cd in 2007. Yet those songs, for the most part, have been almost a best-kept secret reserved for Jennifer and Kristian's fans up until now. The lead track, "City of Silver Dreams" depicts NYC with lyrics as timeless as "White Christmas" or "Silver Bells"...Jennifer's delivery, while still distinctly country, takes Sugarland to a new level with a chorus of which even Irving Berlin would be proud. The title track is a sweet lullaby which one can imagine singing at bedtime to the little ones on Christmas Eve. The classic covers "Winter Wonderland", "O Come Emmanuel" (with its bare, haunting arrangement)and "Silent Night" (sung in English and Spanish) all show Jennifer Nettles' mastery of her vocal instrument's vast range of colors. Kristian's "Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Maybe Baby" give us a broader offering of his unique, charming and quite capable vocal chops...The Sugarland version of "Nuttin' For Christmas" is a fun backporch jam that will bring a smile. "Coming Home" is a bluesy, gospel-styled "home for the holidays" that successfully puts a Sugarland touch on another musical genre. Last, but certainly not least, "Little Wood Guitar" (part of the 2007 release) is truly worth the price of the cd alone; this Kristian Bush written song effectively brings to focus how a simple gift can transform a life...precious holiday food for thought. Sugarland's Gold and Green is a officially the first Holiday album from this prolific duo and hopefully one of many more to come.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 24, 2009
If you're tired of the same old cover versions of traditional Christmas music, you're not alone. Sugarland must have felt the same way, for this nifty little early Christmas present from country's premiere duo contains as many original holiday-themed compositions as it does reworkings of the expected chestnuts. The pair even puts their signature style on some of the cover versions. For example, it might be hard to picture anyone else singing "Nuttin' for Christmas" after hearing Jennifer Nettles' comically mischievous take on the song.

But it's the 5 original compositions that really separate GOLD AND GREEN from the rest of the holiday pack. "City of Silver Dreams" opens the disc with snowy sweet love letter to New York City, a song that surely deserves a place among the all-time great Christmas tunes. "Coming Home" revisits the theme of the band's first single "Baby Girl" (even going so far as to have the mother in the song ask 'How's my baby girl?'), and it's hard not to see art imitating life when one realizes it was just 5 short years ago that Nettles and Co. burst onto the scene with that slice of life-on-the-road. The title track evokes a sort of country-tinged Carpenters, although even Karen Carpenter never got so choice a line as "The butter light of candlesticks/Chases snowflakes off the bricks." Kristian Bush takes the mic for "Maybe Baby (New Year's Day)", a restless plea to see an old lover during the holidays. While probably the weakest of the original songs here, it's still a fine Steve Earle-style mid-tempo rocker.

And then we come to what is not only the album's best song, it could be the song-writing and performance high point of Sugarland's career to date. "Little Wood Guitar" is as perfect a composition as has come around in many years. While stylistically akin to "Coming Home," the song simply takes flight when Nettles reaches the chorus. And again, it's hard not to see some truth in the story of the rather unassuming Christmas present that had the power to change a person's life.

I guess the real revelation about GOLD AND GREEN is that it does not, for one moment, NOT feel like a Sugarland album. This is no studio-mandated collection of cover songs designed to front-load the retail racks in time for Christmas. It is what it is: A Sugarland Christmas album. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Although I've long meant to buy some of Sugarland's earlier albums, I haven't yet so this is my first album of theirs. It certainly reminds me that I really must buy those other albums. This is one of the more imaginative Christmas albums around, with several original songs and a sprinkling of old chestnuts, all done in typical Sugarland style. Jennifer Nettles sings most of the lead vocals, but Kristian Bush takes the lead on Holly jolly Christmas and Maybe baby New Year's day.

Although Sugarland's music is rooted in country (some tracks actually utilize a steel guitar), it has a contemporary urban feel to it, clearly illustrated by the opening track, City of silver dreams. Traditional country songs usually contrast the big bad cities and the nasty people who inhabit them with the rural life that they acknowledge as tough but at least the people are nice, examples being Detroit city (Bobby Bare), I'm gonna be a country girl again (Buffy Sainte-Marie) and Big city (Merle Haggard). The opening track shows how far country songs have changed, as it pays enthusiastic homage to New York, including one verse about St Patrick's Cathedral and another about 5th Avenue. Instead of regarding New York as heartless and soulless, country singers now recognize that New York can be enjoyable.

Following that opener are a couple of standards (Winter wonderland), which are given a distinctive Sugarland treatment but still stick to the basic original arrangement, so they should still sound reassuringly familiar enough to satisfy traditionalists. Next come three original songs. The first of these, Coming home, makes no reference to Christmas and could be about a homecoming at any time of year, but it certainly fits in here comfortably. The title track describes some of the good feelings of Christmas, while the sad song, Maybe baby New year's day, finds a man reflecting on how Christmas used to be with a woman who is only a memory.

Nuttin' for Christmas, a song first recorded by the Fontane Sisters, is a wonderful upbeat fun song that is rarely recorded. Next comes the standard O come O come Emmanuel, which Jennifer sings with the dignity it requires. A very stately song, the instrumentation includes two banjos, which is not exactly what one might expect, but they are played with great restraint while providing a distinctive touch. Nobody will mistake Sugarland's version of this carol for any other.

The last original song here, Little wood guitar, is about a Christmas gift given to a girl (Jennifer?) who eventual becomes successful. A great story song, it ranks alongside the opening track and the title track as one of the three best tracks here, although the entire album is brilliant. The album ends with an excellent bilingual version of Silent night.

This album took a few spins to grown on me, but I appreciated it more each time I played it. While the album is generally upbeat, I'm not convinced that it would work as party music, but it would be great at any other time of the festive season.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2009
Both my husband and I were very pleased with the Christmas offerings by Sugarland. There are some unique songs that are sure to be Christmas favorites in the years to come. I would highly recommend.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
"Gold and Green" dishes up nothing but outstanding music from Sugarland! They sound better than ever on this album; and the arrangements for their holiday songs are highly creative and beautiful. Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush can write--and on this album they perform holiday songs both traditional and new. Listen for songs that have widespread appeal with lyrics about family, love and so much more of life. The CD also gets a lot of its strength from the way the tracks flow into one another; and that's grand. Sugarland sounds just great and the artwork is very pretty. This is definitely a must-have for their fans!

"City of Silver Dreams" - This is a beautiful, poignant song with an elegant piano arrangement. It makes a great starter tune for the album. And wow, how Jennifer Nettles can SING!

"Winter Wonderland" - Obviously, this is a traditional song; but Sugarland performs it with so much exceptional energy they can practically claim it as their own. That awesome country flavor works wonders for this classic ballad and they never miss a beat. The guitars sound particularly sweet; this'll get you up and dancing!

"Holly Jolly Christmas" - This has more excellent words and music performed with a country twist by talented Sugarland. The guitars are just terrific and the slightly slower than normal tempo lets them put their own stamp on this song.

"Coming Home" - This stuns me with its beauty; Sugarland delivers this with heart and soul--and just one listen proves it! The music fits in perfectly with those vocals, too.

"Gold and Green" - The title track gets a lovely treatment; this handsome song is very easy on the ear and I think you're going to like this charming lullaby.

"Maybe Baby (New Year's Day)" - Sugarland uses percussion, guitars and more to make this song sparkle brightly. This song is very beautiful indeed; and it deals with the topic of a man remembering a love affair. This is clearly a major highlight of this album.

"Nuttin' for Christmas" - "Nuttin' for Christmas" is a cute, secular Christmas song that Sugarland aces as effortlessly as if it were mere breathing. It really wasn't all that easy; their talents carry them through.

"O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" - This is a lovely interpretation of this classic Christmas song.

"Little Wood Guitar" - This is a new song by Sugarland. What a great song this is--we hear the story of a little girl who received a guitar as her only Christmas present. Sugarland bats this right out of the ballpark.

"Silent Night" - Sugarland ends their album with a crackerjack interpretation of this classic and ageless Christmas music. Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles sing this in both English and Spanish; and they never let go of a single superfluous note!

Sugarland delivers an awesome holiday CD. I recommend this for Sugarland fans; and people who want a terrific country style holiday CD would do well to add this to their collections.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2010
This is one of the few Christmas albums that has some exceptional original music in addition to traditional songs. The title track, City of Silver Dreams and Coming Home are all excellent. The traditional tracks are not as good as some other straight-forward collections (Martina McBride and Faith Hill probably being the best in that regard), but Silent Night and O Come, O Come are both very well done. This is a solid addition to a Christmas collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2010
A rare country CD representing well! Some straight country here, complete with twanging steel guitar-- such as 'Holly Jolly Christmas ' and Nuttin' for Christmas' like you've never heard them. The serenity of 'Silent Night' in spanish adds yet another flavor. Just enough stylistic crossover and original songs to make a really strong mix without going too far away from their bread and butter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2010
I bought this album last year and hated to put it away. It is one of the best Christmas Albums I have ever had! They make each song their own it does not sound like the usual Christmas album. You could almost play it all year. Jennifer's voice is amazing!!!
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