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Court Yard Hounds

Court Yard Hounds – 2010 (Columbia)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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With their main gig - the Dixie Chicks - on an extended recording hiatus, sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire decided to get together to form this duo and put out some quality music. Think of Sheryl Crow, and you have a pretty good idea of what the Court Yard Hounds sound like. There is a brightness from the generally simple, laid-back production of the sisters and Jim Scott.

The Hounds' sound is not something you'd find on a Chicks' disc. The material comes as being more of the pop variety than the Chicks' brand of country. A rootsy element infiltrates the sonics, but the Hounds smartly separate themselves from their other musical project to forge their own musical identity here.

The vocals from Robison (The Coast and Skyline) are light, airy and breezy. Maguire takes lead only on the sole song of the 12 she wrote, the pretty sounding Gracefully. They push it much harder vocally on their angry sounding co-write Ain't No Son with a far tougher bent musically as well, easily one of the disc's best. The sisters are not the vocal powerhouse of Natalie Maines, who infuses song after song for the Chicks with requisite sentiment and emotion, but that would have been extremely difficult anyway. Robison and Maguire don't really challenge themselves in the same way Maines does perhaps because the songs tend to the softer side and don't require that. But they sure sound good harmonizing (It Didn't Make a Sound)

With time on their hands, the Court Yard Hounds acquit themselves quite well here.