MILES OF TRANE: YES. I've never bought a Dixie Chicks album though my wife likes them so I've not been without exposure, and I do not share America's enamored affection for them. (I mean pre-Bush bashing affection; I started loving them as patriots when that honest expression garnered such unwarranted vitriol and they did not back down). I don't particularly like country, but what with the encyclopedia one needs these days to track genres of music, the label looses significance except for the clearest cases, so I'm not labeling this album. When I was in Oz Music recently and Jason said the Court Yard Hounds album had debuted #2 on the independent record store charts, I was interested but not enthusiastic. But such an initial appearance is nothing to sneeze at. And since Jason was generous enough to give me a copy of Lo-Fi for the Dividing Nights even though I confessed I had not bought my copy of Forgiveness Rock Record there, I felt guilted into buying another CD even though his motives were pure generosity.
As everyone knows, the group consists of sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison, the two-thirds of the Dixie Chicks that were ready to continue creating music even though Natalie Maines wanted an extended hiatus. The two were founding members of the Dixie Chicks, which Maines only joined later, propelling them to super-stardom. After listening to Court Yard Hounds I'm convinced the sisters should call Sheryl Crow and insist she join. Their music is much like Crow's -- the good Crow of Tuesday Night Music Club, her self-titled second album (which is amazing, amazing, amazing), and The Globe Sessions -- and I'll give her C'mon C'mon -- not the disappointing plain vanilla Crow of Wallflower on. I have a feeling, a hope actually, that the collaboration would get Crow back on track and keep the new machine (that does not need Natalie Maine) going forward. The harmonies may not soar as they did with Maine on lead, but I like the music better. There will be plenty of disagreement on this point -- starting with the love of my life who's visible skepticism at my liking this album better than the Chicks has her shaking her head -- but we can only be honest if we say what we believe.
Court Yard Hounds reviews at Metacritic.com 67/100 (Generally favorable reviews)
If you want it as a download buy it here from Oz's download site. Even though I'm not associated with Oz, I love this last independent record store in Tuscaloosa, so consider giving it a shot before looking to Amazon or elsewhere. If you live in west Alabama take a trip there and get it on CD. CDs still offer the highest quality digital format.