Dixie girls look on bright side
Court Yard Hounds - Amelita (Columbia) 3 STARS
Sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire are best known as two-thirds of The Dixie Chicks, and this side project isn't massively removed from that country-pop outfit.
At their best, the pair wrap caustic sentiments in the loveliest of packages. Opening track Sunshine is typical of their iron fist in a velvet glove approach: their melodious singing is wonderfully tender, but their words are full of bite.
"Tonight you'll grace us all with your inner presence," Emily sings. "While your backhanded compliments let the air out of the room."
For the most part, though, Amelita features upbeat, sunny songs. The World Smiles offers a utopian design for life, while Rock All Night is an infectious number which celebrates the musician's life on the road – very much at odds with the downbeat ruminations of other singers on this subject.
Despite their strengths, Robison and Maguire aren't free of the blandishments that pockmark the albums of their main band. Some of the songs are simply too pretty and polished, while others feel like tarted up demos.
Incidentally, Dixie Chicks' main woman Natalie Maines – who recently released a soul-searching solo debut album – has no involvement with this side project.
KEY TRACKS Sunshine; Rock All Night