This is my second Dixie Chicks album and I feel like I just basically feel the same way about it. That’s a frustrating experience for me because I feel like I should have some kind of new take. Moreover, given the general feelings of fans that this is (slightly?) inferior to Wide Open Spaces, I wonder why I don’t feel that way.
I don’t remember quite as standout a song as “Cold Day In July” on that previous album. Of all of their stuff I’ve really listened to (I mean attentively), I think this is the closest they’ve come to one of those classic country heartbreak songs. (That might be because it’s a cover!) The songwriting has yet to be a feature for me. That’s not to say that the material is weak but that I’ve rarely connected with it. (Because I listen to so little contemporary country or ’90s country I have basic no frame of reference for what constitutes good modern country songwriting. I am always comparing it to the old stuff.)
Maines remains (sorry) a really compelling lead vocalist, they kind you can sort of fall in love with. And on the more traditional songs she almost wins me over. But much like the previous album I get stuck on the arrangements, which veer from almost traditional bluegrass to the kind of “modern” country pop I despise. I am not, for a second, advocating that country stay traditional but, to the extent that I get pleasure from country music from the last 30-40 years, it’s primarily from the stuff that takes inspiration from other genres (punk, alternative, metal!!!) than arena rock and pop music. The Dixie Chicks are obviously far more traditional than their pop country contemporaries, but to me it’s too much stylistic hedging; it feels like they are trying to satisfy their different demographics.
So, just like the previous record, I can’t be too critical of it but it is absolutely not for me.
61/0 I guess