Dixie Chicks: Home (Open Wide)

As simple entertainment, it’s enjoyable enough.

A photo anything but homey graces the cover to Home, the Dixie Chicks’ third CD (more or less). In it, the band’s three principals sport elegant black evening gowns whose straps seem disinclined to stay shouldered, but fiddler Martie Maguire and banjo player Emily Robison, her younger sister, also wear frowns—and singer Natalie Maines looks as though only a fast-clenched hand and an equally swift uppercut separate her from decking someone.

To an extent, that’s apt. On disc and off—as Sony Music evidently learned in a recent accounting and legal wrangle with them—the Chicks pack a punch. Indeed, an Entertainment Weekly review of Home a few weeks ago positioned them as a musical Muhammad Ali—if Cassius Clay had been born white, female, and triplets. Not quite. No, not quite.

That said, Home does have its pleasures. The kicky opener, “Long Time Gone,” slickly critiques the sad state of current commercial country radio and its cookie-cutter artists: “Now they sound tired but they don’t sound haggard/They got money but they don’t have cash.” Further, “White Trash Wedding” (the sole tune of the 12 here co-written by the trio) charms with its runaway-train tempo (if simple lyric). Finally and appropriately—Maines has a one-year-old son, and Robison will doubtless have given birth for the first time by the date this issue of Playback St. Louis appears—“Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)” celebrates new motherhood with a gentle, affecting touch. Home, in short, will likely inspire no musical epiphanies in most listeners, but as simple entertainment, it’s enjoyable enough.

To revisit the initial visual focus of this review, the CD’s jewel box opens on a photo of a flat, young, female midriff girded by a belt whose buckle reads “Chicks Rule.” Again, not quite. Still, with Home, they further cement their position in the line of succession.

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