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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Chicks Get Angry, 8 Aug. 2006
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This review is from: Taking The Long Way (Audio CD)
Musically, this is an excellent follow-up to 2002's Home. But it is also the album immediately following the furore stirred up by Natalie Maines's comments denigrating President Bush, and that makes it a slightly more important release than would be usual. That it has been phenomenally successful is likely a reflection that the hysteria only afflicted a small proportion of the US population, and that as usual the televised minority was mistakenly taken to be representative of the whole.

That the Chicks are angry with that minority is in plenty of evidence in the lyrics of songs like The Long Way Round, Not Ready to Make Nice, and Lubbock Or Leave It. This last song emphasises the message via the threatening tones of the instruments, which grumble, growl and spit with vehemence: it sounds like Emily Robison is going to pluck the strings clean off her banjo, and Martie Maguire is going to saw straight through the fiddle with her bow.

But in amongst all the anger is an endearing naivety: the Chicks seem genuinely shocked not just by the nastiness of the world, but that any of it should be directed at them personally. "Why me?" they seem to be asking.

Although the album as a whole is a shade darker than its predecessors, however, it's not totally obsessed with the CD crushers, and one of the tracks - I Like It - is almost upbeat. But there is no mattress dancing, and none of the humour (albeit of the graveyard variety) of Goodbye Earl.

A couple of the tracks, Silent House and Voice Inside My Head, glance back to A Home from the last album, but if anything there is even more regret, underlined by Martie's weeping strings on Silent House and the plaintive steel guitar on Voice Inside My Head.

Bitter End is a country waltz, but the title gives a clue to the mood. Lullaby, on the other hand, is a soft affirmation of love reminiscent of Godspeed on Home.

There are also times when non-country influences come to the fore: check out the riff on I Like It and compare with Martha and the Vandellas' Nowhere to Run; and listen to Natalie morph into Aretha on the gospel-tinged I Hope - that could easily be Billy Preston on organ and BB King on guitar.

So, the Dixie Chicks survived the forces of conservatism and came back with a suitable retaliatory blow, not by expanding on the Bush bashing, but by simply doing what they do best, making a really enjoyable, and successful, record. Boy, that smarts!
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