SugarlandWhen recording a holiday album, the question country artists ask themselves is not what carols to sing, but how to put their own unique spin on a Christmas classic such as 'White Christmas' or 'Silent Night.'

"Well, that's easy -- we just do what we do," Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles tells CMT.

"We just wake up," quips Kristian Bush.

In a nutshell, Jennifer and Kristian point out, they didn't try to reinvent themselves when recording their first holiday album, 'Gold and Green.' The CMA's Vocal Duo of the Year say they are who they are ... and yet at the same time, they love to surprise.

"We don't know how to do anything else, so it's pretty easy to keep that when you're just being yourself," Jennifer points out. "And we love to experiment and to explore, and to stretch in any way. Our fans have come to expect that, and anticipate that, and get excited about it -- so it's fun!"

That experimentation includes their rendition of 'Silent Night' for this album, when Jennifer felt compelled to stretch her extraordinary vocal wings, and sing part of the carol in Spanish ... which pretty much took Kristian's breath away.

"It's difficult for me not to fall madly in love with her while she is singing in Spanish," Kristian confesses with a laugh. "I just love her accent. She is such a great linguist, and is not just fluent in Spanish, but graduated with a degree in Spanish. It's such a beautiful thing to hear [her] voice take on the roundness of that accent, and then to deliver it with the emotion of what 'Silent Night' is. It kind of makes my knees weak."

The irony in what Kristian says is lost on Jennifer, whose Southern twang has become her signature sound.

"The whole song, in and of itself, is very regal ... and then the Spanish is very regal in its roundness," she notes. "But I do think it's fun when you talk about it, because people always make comments about how Southern I am. Obviously, when I'm singing in Spanish, it sounds different, and some people [say], 'Well, wait a minute. What's real, and what's not?' But when you hear the Beatles, or when you hear the Rolling Stones, they're British, but they don't sing like they're in the musical, 'Oliver.' The way you sing is different from the way you speak sometimes ... and sometimes it's not."

And sometimes when you record a Christmas album completely out of season, you just might have to color and adjust your surroundings to put yourself in that holiday mood.

"We did a few things to help us get in the mood, because we recorded it in July," Jennifer says with a laugh. "It was very warm!"

"It's very Christmas-y in July," Kristian deadpans.

"So we had Christmas lights put up, and Christmas decorations in the studio," Jennifer continues. "We burned the Christmas tree-scented candles. I have a video of a Yule log burning, and we put that on the monitor. It helped!"

Jennifer and Kristian co-wrote five new Christmas songs for their holiday album ... and also put their own Sugarland spin on several other secular and inspirational classics. 'Gold and Green' is available now.