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From the Country Standard Time Archives

Dixie Chicks focus on their present home

Kodak Theater, West Hollywood, Cal., Aug. 15, 2002

By Dan MacIntosh

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA – The three Dixie Chicks are seemingly always in various stages of motherhood these days, as Natalie Maines performed on the "Fly" tour with ‘one in the oven,' and Emily Robison was clearly showing during this concert being taped for an early December NBC TV special.

But tonight's show revolved around parenting of a different kind, as the Chicks previewed their new "Home" album before an audience of adoring fans - like parents proudly holding their newborn in a delivery room.

Clearly, The Dixie Chicks have much to be proud about. They played the album from start to finish and gave every indication that this is their strongest album to date. This consistently folk, country and bluegrass offering was recorded in their hometown of Austin, and every song they sang seemed to be better than the last one.

Maines told the audience about how this new album is a reflection of newfound peace and calm in their lives. The group then backed up her words by playing a mostly calming and peaceful set of music.

One of these notably reflective pieces was a cover of Stevie Nicks' "Landslide," which the singer/songwriter wrote when she was 27. Maines is 27 now, and she probably understands exactly what Nicks was talking about. Change is a constant, it's true, but change is not necessarily a negative thing. For Maines and the Dixie Chicks, this song helps document their artistic evolution from "Wide Open Spaces," if you will, to the more contained surroundings of family and home.

The Chicks have tremendous respect for singer/songwriter Patty Griffin, which is why this new album contains two of her songs. The first is the upbeat, yet biting, "Truth," and the other one is called "Top Of The World," which the group chose as their show closer. With it, they pulled out all the stops by augmenting a six-piece acoustic band with added strings to present this dramatic and moving ballad.

But bluegrass was a more common musical denominator than ballads on this night. These down home selections ranged from the Jerry Springer-ready "White Trash Wedding," to the Maines' baby-inspired instrumental, "Little Jack Slade."

When these women played slower songs, however, they were equally effective. Maines introduced the slightly Irish-tinged "More Love" be telling about how this song always reminds her of the contradictory nature of religious wars. They followed this up with the hopeful "I Believe In Love," which they wrote in response to the events of 9/11.

Their short encore included predictable renderings of "Cowboy Take Me Away," "Goodbye Earl," "Sin Wagon" and "Wide Open Spaces." Maines even messed up the lyrics on "Wide Open Spaces," which is probably their most popular song. But you can't really blame her, since the Dixie Chicks are much more focused on their present "Home," rather than reliving in the past.