I picked up the new Dixie Chicks CD after hearing some bits of several songs on the radio. For many years I have wanted to like the Dixie Chicks, but I haven’t quite been able to. You see, I can’t abide twang. It makes my skin crawl.
My aversion goes back many years, to a long, meandering road trip from Arizona to Oregon, with many stops to see relatives, in a hot car with no AC in June accompanied by my Grandma and her Sons of the Pioneers cassette tape, which got stuck in the car’s tape player. The tape player that automatically played whatever was in it and couldn’t be shut off. My Grandma decided that listening to the same thing over and over and over again was better than listening to nothing, so she wouldn’t turn the volume down, and we listened to the Sons constantly for a whole day and a half of desert driving, until I snuck out of my aunt’s house in the middle of the night with a butter knife and pried the tape out of the player.
Now, it should be pointed out that the Sons of the Pioneers did Western music, not Country music (back when there was a difference between the two), so the amount of twang is limited. But twang it did for 18 HOURS OF 55 MILE-AN-HOUR DRIVING IN THE HOT DESERT IN THE SUMMER WITH NO AIR CONDITIONING (recall that my Grandma was with me — she would not allow me to exceed 55 miles an hour under any circumstances, even when the road kills outnumbered the living things we saw by 5-to-1).
So, the Dixie Chicks. Even though I have really wanted to like the Dixie Chicks, I haven’t been able to until this album — their big cross-over effort. There’s not a lot of twang on this album. Even the twangiest of the songs — it’s a toss-up between “Silent House” and “Bitter End” — doesn’t twang much. There are some real gems on this album, like “Lullaby” (which I suspect would appeal strongly to Allison Krauss fans). But there’s also not much that’s surprising — this is a very mainstream Country/Rock cross-over album. Shania Twain comes to mind (the early cross-over Shania, before she started trying too hard).
Much has been made of the “mom rock” theme of this album. I don’t think it would have struck me that way had I not already heard it described this way. However, it definitely deals with themes that adult women face — child-rearing, caring for an elderly ailing relative, finding time for romance, finding time for yourself, working at relationships, and so on.
I’m enjoying the album, and I recommend it.