this week in texas twang #6: Court Yard Hounds
When Natalie Maines rated out President Bush with her infamous anti-war lingo, it very nearly caused the destruction of one of country music’s best-selling female groups of all time, (ahem, The Dixie Chicks, back for a 2010 summer tour with The Eagles) not to mention uprooting the ongoing clash of first amendment rights ever to plague the radio airwaves. (See Shut Up and Sing.)
But the group came back, heads hung a little lower, and managed to somewhat reconcile with country naysayers everywhere.
This time around, two-thirds of the Dixie Chicks, sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire, take the reigns in their own hands, Robison having complete control on the mic.
And what sweet control it is.
The sister’s musicianship has never been a question, they can play, and on Court Yard Hounds, the thematic story telling mantra that is country music is in full, uplifting swing.
The music isn’t far from the Dixie Chicks’ blend of folk pop, but it is lacking the raspy-soaked vocals a Chicks lover would covet.
Here, gentler leads pack in songs of affection and solace, and Robison gets plenty of song-writing fodder from her recent D-I-V-O-R-C-E, proceeding to lament about heartaches and independence like a seasoned pro.
The song titles alone are proof of that: “Let the Caged Bird Sing,” “Well-Behaved,” and “See You In the Spring,” a star-crossed lovers duet with Jakob Dylan, showcase the raw poetic talent the Hounds are instilled with.
But let’s not forget the honed musical genius that is the sisters.
Their honky-tonk fiddle and banjo-driven tempos mixed with daring guts-spilled-on-the-floor-language come through too.
Take for instance, the mixing of politics with pure country twang (always a bold move) on “Ain’t No Son,” a foot-stomping argument between a father and a gay son, in which the sisters prove, once and for all, that the Court Yard Hounds will never hang their heads in complete shame.