Saturday, April 17, 2010

Court Yard Hounds, "The Coast"

Do these ladies seem familiar? Of course they do. Emily Robison and Martie Maguire originally found fame as members of the country super group known as the Dixie Chicks. The Chicks ruled the roost on the country charts in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But then lead singer Natalie Maines ruffled a few feathers by criticizing then-President Bush, and the Chicks' hit-making streak came to a screeching halt. Now fast forward seven years later to the year 2010. President Bush is out of office, and the Dixie Chicks have been on hiatus for a few years now. Martie and Emily had the itch to make new music again, but Natalie wasn't ready, so the two sisters have formed the duo called the Court Yard Hounds as a side project (though they have stated that the Dixie Chicks have not officially disbanded).

Now that the Hounds have released their debut single, "The Coast," it is inevitable that Martie and Emily's new music will be compared to that of the Dixie Chicks. The song does lack some of the spunk and sass that Natalie brought. On "The Coast," Emily steps into the shoes of the lead vocalist, and she does a fine job of filling the role. Her soft and sweet voice bears a resemblance to that of Sheryl Crow. Decide for yourself whether or not you like Emily's voice better than Natalie's.

As the title implies, this song is about taking a trip to a beach on the coast for some much-needed rest and relaxation. Unlike most summer songs, which are often loud and rowdy, "The Coast" has a slow and steady tempo, and a mellow and pleasant feel to it. The narrator describes her reasons for heading to the coast. When she is there, "nothing seems to matter." She can escape the stress of her everyday life and "feel a whole lot better." The lyrics are rich in imagery, describing "blue skies, green water, white birds in the air" and "the wind blowin' in my hair." The song paints a vivid picture of the tranquil setting, causing listeners to see themselves there. The instrumental line-up includes the prominent fiddles and banjos that created the signature sound of the Dixie Chicks. The lilting melody of the chorus makes it thoroughly enjoyable to hear.

Politics aside, this is some good music here. It retains many of the desirable qualities that the Dixie Chicks' music possessed, but it has a feeling of being new and different at the same time. It reminds us of one reason why the Dixie Chicks were such a successful group - because each member was an incredible talent in her own right. Due to the abundance of Dixie Chick-haters, it is uncertain if this song will receive any support from country radio. But any airplay that it does get is definitely well-deserved.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)