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Court Yard Hounds

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Album Review

With Natalie Maines uninterested in recording a new Dixie Chicks album nearly five years after the last, sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire decided to abandon her as a temporary measure: they formed the side project Court Yard Hounds, releasing an eponymous album in May of 2010. Co-produced by Jim Scott, who mixed Taking the Long Way, it sounds like the Dixie Chicks minus Natalie: softer, sweeter, lacking a sense of surprise, but not unpleasantly so. If anything, there may be a touch too much pleasantness in the Court Yard Hounds, with the record often gently swaying to acoustic instrumentation and relaxing on its smooth surfaces. When guitars are cranked up, as they are on “Ain’t No Son,” Robison is almost buried underneath their steady thump, which isn’t the fault of the production: she’s too sweet a presence to cut through thick production. In other words, she lacks Maines' feistiness, something integral to the Dixie Chicks’ crossover, but she’s a consummate pro, possessing exceptional taste, sturdy songwriting skills, and the status to hire the very best studio musicians, not to mention having Jakob Dylan drop in for a duet on “See You in the Spring.” Perhaps the results are predictable, but they are satisfying, and it’s better to have new music from this duo than none at all.

Biography

Formed: 2009 in San Antonio, TX

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '10s

Three years after 2006’s Taking the Long Way, sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire were ready to cut a new Dixie Chicks album, but Natalie Maines wasn’t prepared to participate, so the siblings struck out on their own as the duo Court Yard Hounds. Robison stepped into the role as frontwoman for the group, and the pair retained the service of much of the Dixie Chicks extended family — including Maines’ father Lloyd as a guitarist — during the recording of their eponymous debut. Given...
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