No one who has heard Nettles at full volume would doubt the power of her instrument. You can hear it all over her new album, Playing With Fire, out May 13 on Big Machine. All of the songs find Nettles in peak vocal form, a burly, blues-tinged tone she links to Douglas, the small, South Central Georgia city where she was born and raised. "It's in my terroir, as we say," she says. "All of the rich heritage of music from that part of our country -- gospel, R&B, blues, country -- I can't get out of it. It's in my blood. I'm from the swamp of southern Georgia."
Gender Imbalance in Country
Nashville has begun to shake itself loose from the stranglehold of so-called bro country, but the gender imbalance persists. "I looked at the charts the other day," says Nettles. " 'Unlove You' is doing well. But I also looked and went: 'Between me and No. 1, there's one other woman. You're telling me between 32 and No. 1, there's one other woman? What?' My mind was blown."
She's With Her
"It does mean something that she is a woman," Nettles says about supporting Hillary Clinton. "Young girls, they can look at this and think, 'Oh! I could be president too.' That has a lot of value, beyond the minutiae of policy debates and budgets."
No Singing in the Shower
"I sing all the time. I sing in the bus. I sing around the house. But I don't sing in the shower." She chuckles. "I do a lot of talking to myself instead. In the shower, I win fake arguments."
Family on the Road
"Magnus is a little gypsy baby -- a seasoned traveler. It's a kid-friendly bus," Nettles says of her 3-year-old son. "There's a lot of toys. His bunk is fitted with Spider-Man sheets. It's more kid stuff than rock'n'roll stuff, for sure. It ain't quite like Willie Nelson's bus."