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This review is from: Taking The Long Way (Audio CD)
With co-writers including Sheryl Crow and Neil Finn, you'd think this album couldn't go far wrong, and for the first six tracks you won't be disappointed. The opening songs are emotionally powerful and leave me enthralled and captivated. With lyrics like "I hear your laugh like a serenade", the Chicks have edged a little away from the fun and feisty nature of their earlier albums, but this maturing of their lyrics is inevitable given the experiences that life has thrown at them since Home.
However, I find that after about track 7 or 8 the songs begin to sound very similar, and the over use of 12-string guitar makes the music hard to listen to. Their writing at this point is sometimes too lyrically driven for my taste, and the music suffers for it. Although there are a few occasional and good instrumental bursts, they don't last long and they're not very inspiring.
This album seems to have a split personality. It's almost like halfway through the album they've replaced Natalie Maines' identifiable Texan twang - a beautiful country voice that at times almost brings me to tears - for a Sheryl Crow copy-cat rock voice. In fact, take a miscellaneous Crow album, remove the groovy electric guitars replacing them with blander acoustics, and this is what half the album sounds like.
If I want to listen to Sheryl Crow, I'll pull out one of her albums. While I absolutely love some of the songs here, did Rick Rubin know what he was doing when he agreed to produce the Dixie Chicks? His fuzzy thinking about their genre has clearly pushed them away from their country roots into a rock category, and I don't think they do rock nearly so well.
This is no longer a country trio, it's a Natalie Maine solo album with some backing singers, and although it opens exceptionally well, I felt they ran out of original ideas and took the long way home.