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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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I pretty much agree with Peter Durward Harris's thoughtful review here, but can't quite share his unqualified enthusiasm for this album. At its best it is terrific, but I'm not sure the material is consistently good enough to warrant five stars.

Martie and Emily are fine musicians and singers, and there is a lot of stuff here which is as good as The Dixie Chicks' best - which is high praise indeed. The singing is great, there are lovely and very well-judged harmonies, the instrumental work is excellent and the production very good indeed, allowing every song to work to its best. There is a good variety and some great songs: as examples, the opener "Sunshine" is a brilliant, rocking denunciation of a smug, sneering twerp, "Phoebe" is a real bluegrass-based cracker and "Divided" is a lovely, haunting break-up song. However, I thought "Rock All Night," for example, was very ordinary and only just redeemed by good performances and production. I won't go through the whole album, but and there are a couple of other weakish songs among the real quality.

Don't get me wrong - this is a good album and I wouldn't want to put anyone off. Certainly by comparison with Natalie Maines's (to me) rather disappointing Mother it's very good and I'd still recommend it as a very enjoyable and engaging album by very fine musicians which has some (but not quite consistently) terrific songs.
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Originally as founder members of the Dixie Chicks, these sisters had been recording music for over 20 years prior to releasing this album. They recorded three Dixie Chicks albums, notably Little Ol Cowgirl, on an independent label before the other members went their own ways and were eventually replaced by Natalie Maines. This gave them commercial success but also brought controversy. Natalie now has her own solo career while Martie and Emily continue as the Court Yard Hounds, this being their second album using that identity.

Musically, the album is easily recognizable as country, although it has a contemporary feel to it as we expect these days. On most tracks, Emily sings lead with Martie singing harmony, but Martie gets her chance as lead singer on two tracks (A guy like you, Gets you down).

Lyrically, the songs are all originals, co-written by the sisters and/or people they know. There is a mix of sad and happy songs without extremes of either, which perhaps reflects the fact that the sisters have reached an age where they know about good and bad times, and have learned to cope with whatever life brings. The titles do not always reflect the mood of the songs. Sunshine, far from being a good-time song, is actually a sarcastic name for a selfish person who looks down on people. As a contrast, the title track tries to reassure somebody with an inferiority complex. For uplifting songs, listen to The world smiles (acknowledging sadness but looking to a brighter future) and Rock all night (about having a good time).

This is an album of contrasting moods and varied arrangement making for a great country album.
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on 14 May 2016
I adore this album, found it doing a wee bit of DC research after seeing them live in Birmingham recently. I love the DCs but did not know Emily & Martie performed together without Natalie. I have played this constantly since receiving it and it had kept me company on a couple of long car journeys. The lyrics aren't as strong as the DCs and I don't get Sunshine at all (he drags her mood down,so she calls him Sunshine??) but their melodies are clever & terrific and very memorable.
Waiting for their other album to arrive from the US.
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on 17 August 2013
Most know Emily and Martie best as members of The Dixie Chicks. But though the songs on their Court Yard Hounds' new album are occasionally country-tinged, there's a lot more going on here as well.

Many songs on the album have a very warm, organic, natural musicality. Some bring to mind those of the early 1970s singer-songwriters, and the album cover even has a slightly faded, retro vibe. But it's not really nostalgic at all: these songs are fresh and homegrown.

There are ballads, as well as songs you can dance to. And quite a few you'll probably find yourself singing along to. I won't list and describe every song here, but rather highlight a couple. (There isn't a dud on the album, it was hard to pick.)

One of those is "Sunshine," about a person who brings the others around her down. But it won't bring you down; it's an instant mood-brightener. And, relatable: we've all known people like this.

"Rock All Night" is very uptempo, a party song, just plain fun. That's something this album does well - fun.

The upbeat "The World Smiles" gets stuck in your head - it's about keeping a positive attitude and believing in the good all around you.

I was a casual listener of The Dixie Chicks and somehow missed the Court Yard Hounds debut album (which is in my shopping cart now). This band has really won me over with Amelita.
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on 15 November 2013
The sisters from the Dixie Chicks are talented musicians and singers, and this is a good production, and a clear step forward from their first album. To see them at their very best though, they need to be reunited with Natalie Maines - roll on the C2C concert at the O2 in March !!!
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on 7 September 2013
A good follow up to their first album from former Dixie Chicks. Some very good writing and just enough moving on from The Dixie Chicks without being too far away from their origins.
I won't review this album track by track, but if you're consideing buying this, are a fan of this genre then you won't be dissapointed.
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on 11 February 2014
I struggled with their first album and I am struggling with this. Don't get me wrong, there are some nice tracks on the album but nothing that blows me away. Dour is a word I'd use to describe much of this album and the first one. For me the highlight is the opening track, Sunshine but the rest of it is sadly overcast. One for the collection and it will get the odd play but not very often.
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on 28 November 2013
i have played this cd continuously since i received it. It could almost be a dixie chick album, which is a big compliment.
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on 22 October 2013
I found this album quite bland and lacking some edge.

I must confess that as a severe Dixie Chicks fan, that Martie, Emily and Natalie have (had) a synergy that means the sum of their parts - Court Yard Hounds and Natalie solo - is not equal to the whole... I think the CYH lack the vocal power of Natalie, and Natalie lacks the musicality of Martie and Emily. I would love to see/hear them back working together... If the Dixie Chick name is too toxic for some of the less open-minded elements of the US country industry, maybe they could come back as DC2...
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on 24 November 2013
The debut album was better but none the less this is a good album but still no where near Dixie Chick standard
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