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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Taking the Long, Boring, Self-Indulgent Way

I received the new Dixie Chick's CD, Taking the Long Way, from Amazon.com yesterday and listened to it all the way to work this morning, as well as right now. And quite frankly, I'm a little disappointed.

Most of you know, I am not a huge country music fan. However, I am a big fan of bluegrass and vintage country-folk. I got sucked into the world of the Dixie Chicks in the late nineties, enjoying their first album of pop-country-with-a-side-of-twang, Wide Open Spaces.

It was upon the release of their second album, Fly, when I really became a true Dixie Chicks fan. In addition to mainstream pop hits, the Chicks began to experiment with more of a bluegrass sound, on tracks like Hello Mr. Heartache and Sin Wagon, where the Chicks add a little flavor with a Jews' harp. My freshman/sophomore roommate in college, Missy, also loved the Chicks, and even bought a Jews' harp to learn how to play. I have a happy memory of us jamming to Goodbye Earl on the ride back to Hendersonville, while driving on Highway 109 ("So the girls bought some land and a roadside stand, out on Highway 109. They sell Tennessee ham and strawberry jam and they don't lose any sleep at night.")

My favorite Dixie Chicks album is their third album, Home. This album is markedly different than the previous two albums, breaking from a pop sound in favor of acoustic bluegrass. I don't think there's a bad song on this album. The title-track, Home, reminds me of what I love so much about Nashville. The Stevie Nicks cover of Landslide is absolutely beautiful. White Trash Wedding is characteristic sassy Chicks. Lil' Jack Slade is a fun bluegrass instrumental. Godspeed and Top of the World close the album sentimentally.

Rachel, Amy, Ginny and I bought tickets for the 2000 Fly Tour, but because of conflicts with sorority recruitment, we weren't able to go. We bought tickets for the 2003 Top of the World Tour and were incredibly excited about it until Natalie Maines made some controversial comments at a concert overseas. While it definitely dampened our spirits for the concert, we still had a really great time. The set was breathtaking, featuring a large tree anchoring the stage, surrounded by an LED-lit cicular catwalk. The Chicks introduced Truth No. 2 (written by the legendary Patty Griffin) with some references made to the current political climate and their experiences with the backlash of their actions, and it was surprisingly very heartfelt.

Before the show, we ate at the Bound'ry, and our waitress told us that the Chicks had eaten there just an hour before we arrived! We thought we were so cool....

Anyway, I was very excited to receive the new Chicks CD in the mail yesterday. And after listening to it several times through, I'm not incredibly impressed. First of all, it's missing a key Chicks component---cheekiness. While the album is full of chutzpah, there's not a single track that makes me want to crank it on a summer night and slap my knee. The one attempt at a fast, upbeat track, Lubbock or Leave It, is hard to enjoy because of its subject matter.

The best song on the album is by far is the politically charged Not Ready to Make Nice. Other tracks that stand out are Long Way Around, Easy Silence, Bitter End and Silent House. The album has very personal themes, with every single track co-written by the Chicks. It's persistently mellow, at times a bit whiny and self-indulgent, and the endless ballads begin to bore me halfway through. Overall, the CD is mediocre and disappointing.

Maybe the Chicks will get everything off their chest with this album, so they can return to their banjo-pickin', steel guitar twangin' ways the next time around. Too bad I'll have to wait another three years to find out...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

They look really scary in that picture! Yikes!

9:38 AM


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