By Annie Reuter
Not many people have heard Kristian Bush‘s upcoming solo album Southern Gravity, which is due for release April 7. So, when I sit down with the country singer in Nashville for an interview and tell him I love what I’ve heard, he jumps out of his seat, a smile beaming across his face, and gives me a big hug.
“So very people have heard it, and I’m freaking out because fans are pre-ordering now, and it hit me two days ago,” he says excitedly. His voice is softer now, like he’s sharing a secret between friends. He’s genuinely excited about getting his new music out into the world, but also, understandably, a little anxious. This is, after all, his first solo album since his band Sugarland went on hiatus.
Fans, apparently, are excited to hear the music, too. As Bush relates, “When all those orders came in, they called me and said, ‘We’re out of the pre-orders. We need to reorder again.’ And I was like, ‘OK! That’s good news.’ And 20 minutes later I was like, ‘Oh no, they’re all going to hear it!’ It’s all starting to sink in.”
While country fans know Bush very well as one-half of Sugarland, many aren’t too familiar with his voice (his Sugarland partner Jennifer Nettles handles lead vocals). This fact is not lost on him. And the excitement for an album release isn’t, either.
“In a weird way, this is my third first record,” he says with a laugh. “I remember the first record with Billy Pilgrim, and I remember the first record with Sugarland, and this has the same energy. Most people who hear the music now, they don’t know it’s me because they’re not very familiar with it, because I didn’t sing very much in Sugarland. So it truly is, ‘Hello, my name is Kristian.’”
Bush says his new music will be a discovery process of sorts for people, as they’re now just figuring out what part of the DNA of the band he is.
“If you’re just a complete stranger and you’re like, ‘I love that song. Who’s that?’ That’s fun for me,” he admits. “It’s nerve-wracking and kind of fantastic.”
Interestingly enough, Bush said not even his closest friends have put his voice and his current single “Trailer Hitch” together.
“They don’t connect the dots yet,” he says. “That’s the piece I think that’s interesting about that song. As soon as they start to go, ‘Oh!’ Then it’s the fun and the stories and the grooves you expect from Sugarland, except it’s me singing.”
Bush’s hope for Southern Gravity is to cast a spell on his listener that feels “a little bit like sunshine,” as he says the album overall is warm.
“I would love for it to be a spell where you start to understand what my voice is and what I sound like,” he says. “This is what I sound like when I sit at the end of my bed and write. It’s the most heroic version of myself. This album looks to me as if I’m the superhero version of myself, and it really feels good. I just didn’t know I could fly.”