Monday, June 3, 2013


It's a weird world we're in, where the Dixie Chick is trying to sound like Sheryl Crow, and Crow's trying to go country on her new album.  While Crow's doing it seemingly for commercial reasons (see Jewel, and that guy from Hootie), Maines is showing her independence from the Nashville ideal of a country performer.  Of course, she pretty much did that with one nasty sentence about George W. Bush.  This album won't be the one to mend those fences.

Maines produced the album with Ben Harper, who plays throughout, sings a duet with her on one of his cuts (Trained) and co-wrote another couple with her.  But he mostly takes a back seat, adding slide guitar touches.  It's her baby, and it's an odd collection that doesn't seem to have a direction.  If you cover Pink Floyd's classic from The Wall, and name the album after it, you'd think there would be a point to it, but it seems just to be a song she likes.  And she doesn't do much with it, it's not a number particularly suited to her voice, and she can't pull off the gravitas of the original.  She has a better time with Eddie Vedder's Without You, and a Patty Griffin song called Silver Bell.  The latter one really lets her rock out, and I mean rock, with some searing Harper slide.  It seems the louder she goes here, the better it works.

And so it goes, some good choices, some weak.  An attempt at the alt-country sound of The Jayhawks' favourite, I'd Run Away only sounds good on paper.  And surely somebody must have realized she was over-reaching by trying to sing Jeff Buckley's Lover You Should Have Come Over.  Hearing her stretch for the notes and fail is painful, especially on such a long song.  It's nice that she's her own person for this solo album, but she doesn't seem to have a good idea of who that singer is.

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