Court Yard Hounds – Amelita

Court Yard Hounds - Sunshine

Court Yard Hounds’ album cover for Sunshine

The first album by the Court Yard Hounds might have seemed like a one-time deal as sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison were filling the gap between Dixie Chicks records.

Three years later, Natalie Maines has little interest in recording new material for the band, despite their festival stops in Canada this summer and her own recently released solo record. So the duo chug along with a second album that sees them hone their own sound just a little bit more.

Amelita is the musical equivalent of Sundays. Light, breezy, relaxing, but also kind of just there, as plain as (sun)day. That day of the week that few get excited for but never dread when it arrives.

The album is missing some key ingredients to really spice it up and make it sound alive. Songs like Phoebe require a certain level of attitude that Emily and Martie aren’t able to give as vocalists, even if they can still jam with their instruments. It’s that character that makes one long for Natalie to take back the mic and give it the oomph it needs.

A Guy Like You is a cute song about a secret crush, one of two Martie sings lead on. She sounds nervous in the verses, possibly due to her inexperience being in front or maybe she’s playing the role of a shy school-girl writing about her crush in her diary.

The lyrical high point comes with Divided, about a fading relationship no longer able to withstand the strain of a career – likely written about Emily’s recent divorce. The song contains the particularly striking line “I wish you’d call me one last time and beg me not to go.”

Shortly before the album’s release, Natalie tweeted:
Natalie Maines twitter
appropriate as the missing pieces for each are complement to each other. And in both instances, the last tracks show they can survive independent from each other. Like Natalie’s Take It On Faith, The Road You Take cuts through with its melody before grabbing on with the chorus. Where Natalie sings “take it on faith,” Martie sings “I won’t leave it all to fate.”

The second Court Yard Hounds record passes by with little to leave behind. There are a few potential gems but they’ve yet to really find a niche as their own band. Three stars

1. Sunshine
2. Amelita
3. The World Smiles
4. Aimless Upward
5. A Guy Like You
6. Rock All Night
7. Phoebe
8. Divided
9. Gets You Down
10. Watch Your Step
11. The Road You Take

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