Emily Robison and Martie Maguire of The Dixie Chicks are releasing new music under the moniker Court Yard Hounds. — The Court Yard Hounds profoundly evocative songs tell stories woven into melodies that are both individual ... more »and universal. Robison is the lead vocalist and primary writer on most of the tracks, although Maguire takes over the lead on her own solo composition, "Gracefully". The new music spans sounds of folk, country, rock and Americana and includes a collaboration with Jakob Dylan on "See You in the Spring", the wry tale of a couple from the northernmost and southernmost parts of the country who find their biggest obstacle is climatic.
Texas also asserts itself more contentedly in "The Coast", which celebrates neither the east nor west but south coast, and Skyline, which was inspired by the view of San Antonio from Robison's loft. Faster paced songs range from the self-doubting levity of "Then Again" to the fiery outrage of "Ain't No Son", a song about an angry, disapproving father. Fairytale speaks to romantic enchantment, while there's no happily-ever-after in sight in the breakup songs "April's Love" and "It Didn't Make a Sound".« less
Emily Robison and Martie Maguire of The Dixie Chicks are releasing new music under the moniker Court Yard Hounds.
The Court Yard Hounds profoundly evocative songs tell stories woven into melodies that are both individual and universal. Robison is the lead vocalist and primary writer on most of the tracks, although Maguire takes over the lead on her own solo composition, "Gracefully". The new music spans sounds of folk, country, rock and Americana and includes a collaboration with Jakob Dylan on "See You in the Spring", the wry tale of a couple from the northernmost and southernmost parts of the country who find their biggest obstacle is climatic.
Texas also asserts itself more contentedly in "The Coast", which celebrates neither the east nor west but south coast, and Skyline, which was inspired by the view of San Antonio from Robison's loft. Faster paced songs range from the self-doubting levity of "Then Again" to the fiery outrage of "Ain't No Son", a song about an angry, disapproving father. Fairytale speaks to romantic enchantment, while there's no happily-ever-after in sight in the breakup songs "April's Love" and "It Didn't Make a Sound".
"Content for several years with being in the background while the often fiery and feisty Natalie Maines was their lead vocalist, sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire, having achieved a lot with Natalie as the Dixie Chicks, decided to do their own musical side project under a different moniker while Natalie decided to take time off from music following the Chicks' Grammy wins in 2007, and the controversies over Nat's Bushwhacking comments in London during the previous four years. So here Emily and Martie come into the mix as the Court Yard Hounds. And although it may be missing the intensity and the snarl that Nat bought to the Chicks, there is just as much bite as there is bark in these Hounds.
For one thing, having really grown well beyond what the Nashville or even mainstream Texas establishments pegged them as with the Chicks' TAKING THE LONG WAY, Emily and Martie have carried that album's songwriting style over onto this duo project, where breezy songs like "The Coast" and "Delight (Something New Under The Sun)" alternate with rootsy country-rock songs like "I Miss You" and "Fairytale", and rather stinging social commentary, the latter in the form of "Ain't No Son", which is a fiery attack against the redneck notion that homosexuals are inferior to everybody else. One would also be remiss in not mentioning the fact that their instrumental abilities make them rather peerless in a genre where independent women are still an anomaly, Martie doing her fine fiddle and mandolin work (and even lead vocal on her own composition "Gracefully"; the other songs being written by Emily, who does the lead singing on the rest of the album, and sounds, unintentionally, like Sheryl Crow), and Emily working things out on guitar, banjo, dobro and other sundry stringed instruments. They also get able help from highly reliable session vets, like Natalie's father Lloyd Maines, ex-Lone Justice drummer Don Heffington, and pedal steel wizard Greg Leisz, who worked on the Eagles' LONG ROAD OUT OF EDEN, and Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris' 1999 "Everly Sisters" album WESTERN WALL: THE TUCSON SESSIONS. And on "See You In Spring", Emily and Martie get it on with Bob Dylan's son Jakob as guest vocalist.
COURT YARD HOUNDS almost certainly falls into that musically gray area known as Americana, what with its mix of rock, folk, pop, country, and bluegrass elements; like TAKING THE LONG WAY, it will likely succeed with that Americana crowd as well as an audience that was raised on the 1970s California country-rock sound pioneered by Linda, Emmylou, the Eagles, and Poco. But make no mistake, there is a huge audience out there that loves to hear something different from the same old Nashville assembly line. And though it hardly means that the Chicks themselves are through as a group, at the very least Emily and Martie have created something of their own as a sister duo that is eminently listenable and memorable."
Like catching up with a really good friend.
Dorthy Parker | North Carolina | 05/13/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I hadn't actually heard about this album and was shocked when I stopped in for my morning coffee at my local Starbucks and saw 2/3 of the Dixie Chicks staring back at me. I'm a big fan, so I bought it (which cost me 10 dollars more than if I had bought it on Amazon!) Despite the sting of overpayment, this a great collection. It is different than the Chicks music. Both styles are great, but this album feels more mature musically. I can relate to the lyrics like they came from my own heart. If you are a woman who is no longer a child, this music will speak to you. The songs are about love and loss and family and that's pretty universal stuff.
Listening to the Court Yard Hounds feels like catching up with a really good friend over a great glass of wine.
Well done ladies and thank you for not giving up."
Gloria Beaverson | Roxborough Park, CO USA | 07/02/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have been a fan of the Chicks for a long time. But I had no idea how wonderful the voices of the 'backup singers' were. Seems to me, Natalie should have shared the mike a bit more and showcased the other talent in the band. I love this CD. Can't imagine ever getting tired of it. Emily's voice is so pure, and even though there are numerous comparisons to Sheryl Crow, Crow does not sound this good on her best day. (I am a fan of hers, too.) I hope this is not the only CD from these 2. Bravo!"
These HOUNDS Will Have You Howling!
Jef Fazekas | Newport Beach, California United States | 08/02/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Having never been a really big fan of the Dixie Chicks, I only picked up 2006's TAKING THE LONG WAY for two reasons...first, I thought the pairing of the group with producer Rick Rubin was an interesting one. Second, I felt I needed to support a group who took SO much heat (I mean, c'mon, DEATH THREATS?!?) just for voicing their opinions. The fact that I loved the album as much as I did was just a pleasant added bonus. I was just as intrigued (and equally pleased!) when I read about sisters Emily Robison and Martie Mcguire's side project, COURT YARD HOUNDS. This infectious amalgamation should get under the skin ~ and stay there! ~ of anyone who loves pop, rock, country, bluegrass, Americana and, especially, Sheryl Crow. Things open on a gentle, relaxed note with the subdued, albeit sublime, "Skyline." Anchored by an arrangement that literally floats out of the speakers, Robison's lead vocal is delicate, yet steely. Toss in some bittersweet lyrics ("What am I doin' here/In such a lonely place?/Birds fly below/I'm high up in my cage") and you have a powerhouse of an album opener. "The Coast" is one of my favorite cuts off of CYH....there's just an exuberant joyfulness to the track that wins you over right from the first listen. Robison's lead vocal simply soars, while the arrangement bops along at a finger-popping gait. This track is pop music at it's finest, sheer aural perfection....and a WHOLE lot of fun! There's a smooth, easy-going give and take vibe to "Delight (Something New Under The Sun)." When things amp up for the chorus, well, it feels natural and real. There's an overall ebb and flow to the cut that's just mesmerizing...by the time you get to that bridge...WOW! One of the disc's nicest moments. Things take a 180 with "See You In The Spring", an aching duet with Jakob Dylan. This story of a doomed bi-coastal romance sports a stunning pair of vocals, a heartfelt arrangement and powerful lyrics ("Well, babe, can't you give it time?/I'll keep you warm at night/This town's all I know/And I could see you in my life"). Lovely. And then there's "Ain't No Son." This bluegrass strummer soon morphs into a blistering rocker, as it tells the tale of a bitter father who can't accept who his son is. Great vocal, great instrumentation....but it's the lyrics that really hit hard here: "Stranger, stranger on the wall/When the neighbors come to call/I just don't know what to say/So I put you away/This time I won't leave a trace/I'll fill up the empty space." Another winner! There's a striking similarity throughout much of COURT YARD HOUNDS to a lot of Sheryl Crow's work, and nowhere is that more evident than on "Fairytale." Simple, sincere, honest, real....Robinson's vocal just tugs at your heartstrings. And when she gets to the closing lines of "Every girl wants the fairytale/I guess I do too"...well, they just snap! "I Miss You" is chock full of silly lyrics ("I miss you/I can't wait to kiss you"...really? REALLY??), but the arrangement is so melodic and tuneful that you can't help but forgive the track it's lyrical transgressions. Add in a lead vocal to the mix that is both sultry and sly and a throwaway cut becomes an enchanting winner. Martie Mcguire takes center stage on the gauzy "Gracefully." Blessed with a strong lead vocal, haunting arrangement and mournful instrumentation, you're left wanting more from her. Here's hoping that, unlike Jean Millington and the work she's done with sister June since their days in Fanny, and Nancy Wilson with big sister Ann in Heart, Mcguire won't take such a back seat to Robison on future CYH projects. "Delicate" is also the best way to describe the gorgeous "April's Love." With it's minimal arrangement (love the cello!) and feathery lead vocal, there's just something hypnotic about the cut. Pointed lyrics ("You didn't take a stand/You didn't hold my hand/You should have held on tight") round out another real gem. "Then Again" is another one of my favorite cuts...there's just a quirky, clever edge to the track! The arrangement just kind of chugs along, while Robison's vocal has a nice little lilt to it, sort of coy, kind of playful. All of this (barely) masks the sardonic lyrics ("And just to keep the peace and quiet/I'd forfeit my peace of mind/Then again, I never did understand me"). A powerful blend of light...and dark. However, the disc's true high point has to be the rollicking "It Didn't Make A Sound." Part bluegrass shuffle, part boogie-woogie stomper, this rave-up's fun from start to finish (I particularly love that juke-jammin' piano!!). Blend in another sexy lead vocal and you have one of the Top 25 recordings of the last decade. Mark my word, this is a mass appeal hit just waiting to happen! LOVE....IT!!! Things wind down with the touching "Fear Of Wasted Time", an ode to evolution, change, quiet moments and not wasting one second once you realize how precious each one is. Ethereal vocals, muted, yet sweet, instrumentation and insightful lyrics ("Time might pass me by/If I close my eyes/So I'm on the next plane/Leavin' town") all meld together in a perfectly cohesive manner. The perfect way to end an already stunning effort! And COURT YARD HOUNDS is just that, a stunning piece of work that proves Emily Robison and Martie Mcguire are true contenders. Any thoughts anyone may have that these two are simply that other Chick's back-up band have now, once and for all, been squashed like a bug on a Texas windshield. I, for one, can't wait to see what these sisters do next! (As with all my reviews, I'm giving the disc an extra half a star for including the lyrics...a real rarity in releases this year!)."