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Sugarland, “Joey”

July 7, 2009 Dan Milliken 16

Thought: being Jennifer Nettles allows you to get away with a lot of things that would wreck lesser singers. Her co-write “Joey” is certainly one of the more interesting songs getting shipped to country radio this year, with its drunk-driving scenario and unique “what if” narrative, but it’s also a bit of a mess, with verses that promise much and a chorus that delivers practically nothing – lyrically, emotionally, even melodically. Coming from a less soulful voice box, you know the thing would never float.

Lucky for Sugarland, Nettles’ surging performance manages to keep the track chugging along for longer than it probably deserves to, offering some interesting moments amid all the more underwhelming ones. With her in tow, plus a nice arrangement reminiscent of Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May”, even the song’s hiccups manage to sound like something worth hearing.