May 26, 2006

Taking the Long Way

Ok. About the new Dixie Chicks album (see below). First, despite the fuss about "Not Ready to Make Nice," the response to their ostracism by corporate country (meaning most of Nashville and all of Clear Channel radio), there are 13 other songs on the CD, and they're all interesting, some more than others. When I play it on the computer, both iTunes and RealPlayer insist that its category should be "country." Well, I disagree. It's more like early Eagles, or like Linda Ronstadt just after "Silver Threads and Golden Needles." It's as much pop rock as it is country. The harmonies are beautiful, and they've got an entire herd of backup singers (listen to "I Hope" and you'll think of the South African a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock or the Staple Singers). One thing I was surprised about: there's a lot more guitar than I anticipated. I guess when I've seen them on tv I've seen the songs where fiddle and banjo were featured. And somebody is playing one heck of a pedal steel on a lot of tracks.

About the single "Not Ready," Emily Robison says, "We wrote it for ourselves, for therapy. Whether or not other people think it was important enough to say, we think it was."

In Time magazine's review (sub. only) there's a wonderful line about the next-to-last song: "the album delivers a knockout, So Hard, the first pop song in memory about infertility (Maguire and Robison conceived by in vitro fertilization) and also the catchiest, most complicated love song on the record." The reviewer also says:

Whether the Dixie Chicks recover their sales luster or not, the choice of single has turned their album release into a referendum. Taking the Long Way's existence is designed to thumb its nose at country's intolerance for ideological hell raising, and buying it or cursing it reveals something about you and your politics--or at least your ability to put a grudge above your listening pleasure. And however you vote, it's tough to deny that by gambling their careers, three Texas women have the biggest balls in American music.

I like it.

Posted by Linkmeister at May 26, 2006 12:13 PM | TrackBack

I am so glad you posted this. I haven't gotten around to buying this one yet (I do love their music), but listened to the entire album online last night. Loved it, absolutely loved it. Now I can't wait to get it so I can listen more!! And you are right, it is more pop than country. Great album--I truly hope they do really really well with it!!

Posted by: cyn at May 27, 2006 02:18 AM

i loves me some dixie chicks, have for a long time. hell, i was liking them even before they canned the one sister and brought in natalie (i'd have done the same, natalie is a front girl extrodinaire) i'm hoping that the crummy treatment from the country establishment will get them crossed over. springsteen loves them and would probably help them get alternative way blogger had a sign that said "how many more have to die before we can listen to the dixie chicks again?"

Posted by: stephen benson at June 1, 2006 07:40 AM

They've had quite the personnel history, haven't they? I was looking at All Music to find the credits for the album (I was really curious about that pedal steel -- played by Lloyd Maines, Natalie's "legendary" father) and learned a lot more about them.

Posted by: Linkmeister at June 1, 2006 08:37 AM