- Audio CD (17 May 2010)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Columbia
- ASIN: B0037W6O1W
- Other Editions: Audio CD | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,435 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Court Yard Hounds
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Digital Booklet: Court Yard Hounds
Digital Booklet: Court Yard Hounds
Comprising Emily Robison and Martie Maguire of The Dixie Chicks, the Court Yard Hounds tell profoundly evocative songs of 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.”
I've always loved the Dixie Chicks. In 1998, just as mainstream country music returned to its cyclical period of turgid, predictable and disposable output, along comes a trio of bright, enormously talented and, almost uniquely for the genre, politically correct women. New vocalist Natalie Maines led from the front, backed by Emily Robison and Martie Maguire, who sang and played banjo and fiddle respectively. Their Wide Open Spaces record won two Grammy Awards, including Best Country Album.
Now, with Natalie not ready to begin recording again, Emily and Martie have formed Court Yard Hounds, and the pair's debut album proffers some proof that the Chicks are greater than the sum of their parts.
The two always gave Natalie the perfect setting on their recordings: their backing vocals were entirely complementary, often taking the edge off quite a strident lead voice. Their instruments were always to the fore, keeping them sounding authentic but also absolutely of their time.
But while Court Yard Hounds is a well-packaged and produced collection, its songs seem rather ordinary compared to Chicks material. Emily and Martie are co-producers, and one can imagine the strategy: let's show that we're more than just banjo- and fiddle-playing backing singers. Indeed, those instruments make only cursory appearances, so the sound that should set the pair apart is lost. Their voices might not be as distinctive as Natalie's, but they certainly don't lack personality. The problem is the songs, almost all written by Emily, which simply don't give them anything to work on; thus, everything ends up sounding akin to watered-down Shawn Colvin. Things begin to click a little when Jakob Dylan joins Emily on See You in the Spring, but it's the performance not the song that attracts.
I would love to have heard the result of the pair being produced by someone who could have knocked their songs into shape; who could have thrown out a few and replaced them with three or four non-originals. There's a huge following for the Chicks, and not just for Natalie, so there's a lot of goodwill behind whatever these two get up to. And they could do it, too–they just need a firm hand.
As when all's said and done, we need people like Court Yard Hounds to be good if country music is to roll around once again to delivering the fresh and innovative music it is capable of. --Nick Barraclough
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window
Top Customer Reviews
Being a fan, I had no hesitation in ordering the album anyway but hearing the four tracks on the official site confirmed I wouldn't be disappointed. 'The Coast' instantly had me singing along.
I'm on my third listen of the CD while writing this review and gets better every time I hear it.
The songs are so evocative, I'm up in the loft looking at the 'Skyline', at 'The Coast' (given added poigniancy given what has happened with the oil leak) and on the porch in a rocking chair with a beer in hand.
It's a real shame that here in the UK the likelihood is that only DC fans will be buying this album (if they even know about it). It straddles a number of musical genres and calling it "country" is misleading.
Standout tracks for me include the two I have already mentioned, along with 'See You In The Spring' (a duet with Jakob Dylan), 'Fairy Tale', 'I Miss You' and 'It Didn't Make A Sound'.
There isn't a bad track here. Songs written from the heart that really make you think.
Never afraid to tackle "controversial" issues, the rocky 'Ain't No Son' deals with a father's rejection of his gay son (surely every parent should be prepared for this possibility?).
Regular readers will know that I am a fan of bonus tracks and arriving the same day was a Deluxe Edition CD/DVD set (sold by the US retailer Target), with two extra tracks (both superb) and a Making Of featurette.
I gather the album has already been successful in the US and Canada and I hope the record company make the effort to promote it everywhere else, as it deserves to be a big seller.
I hope to see the ladies touring this material in smaller venues later this year.
match the majesty of the whole? Is life manageable without Ms Maines?
Sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire have struck out on their own
and with their pseudonymous debut 'Court Yard Hounds' have delivered a
perfectly respectable little album. (Truth-be-told it could never really have
been a dog's dinner in the hands of seasoned talent as good as this!)
Ms Robison takes the lion's share of the vocals and makes a very good
job of it. Her voice is bright and clear and sweet and has the capacity to
find the emotional heart of each song she sings. (The white-hot passion
of Ms Maines is missing however). Ms Maguire steps up to the mike on
her own composition, the gently lilting ballad 'Gracefully' and is certainly
no second fiddle in the vocal stakes. The song is one of the album's
highpoints. The lovely string arrangement echoes some of D.C's most
wistfully memorable moments.
Ms Robison co-wrote seven of the tracks with guitarist Martin Strayer,
three on her own and one more together with Ms Maguire. The sum total
of their efforts are united in a warm co-production with sound engineer
maestro Jim Scott who keeps everything moving nicely in the right direction.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Nice album. Could imagine all three Dixie Chicks singing a few of the songs.Published 8 months ago by Tracey
Item in great condition, bargain price! Next day delivery as promised.Published 8 months ago by Gemma Clifton
A LITTLE DIFFERENT FROM THE DIXIE CHICKS BUT STILL ENJYABLEPublished 12 months ago by W. C. Chelton
I seem to recall whilst watching "Shut Up and Sing", the documentary following the Dixie Chicks and the furore around their potentially ill advised comments regarding... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Mr. Iain R. Wear
Again quiet good but not as the some of the Chicks parts .Have to say they are great musicians and once again UP YOURS to the USA Bush RightwingersPublished on 12 Jun. 2014 by Shelbourne1904
I liked the album and do listen to it but I must admit I'm a fan of the Chicks and would love to see them reformed, maybe thats my problem as I felt they produced the best music... Read morePublished on 22 April 2014 by Douglas P Hester