Court Yard Hounds Exude Cheery Confidence on “Amelita”

Duo releases sophomore album, hints Dixie Chicks comeback is unlikely.

photo courtesy Court Yard Hounds Twitter

Court Yard Hounds’ sassy new song, “Sunshine,” is about not letting a sour cynic ruin your good mood. It’s a fitting tune to kick off the duo’s sophomore album, Amelita, which hit stores today (July 16) and is undoubtedly a lot sunnier than their 2010 debut.

Sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire, co-founding members of the Dixie Chicks, started the Hounds when Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines took time off from the superstar trio. Their new band’s self-titled effort followed and was largely inspired by Emily’s divorce from fellow singer/songwriter Charlie Robison. But in the three years between albums, the brunette beauty remarried and welcomed her fourth child, resulting in a huge songwriting shift for Amelita.

“This [album] felt like an ‘I’ve broken those chains, rearview mirror, not looking back’ kind of thing,” Emily tells Billboard. “[We were] open to new ideas and observing other people’s lives, as opposed to being so centered to what was going on in my life. It’s made for a lot more of a fun, happy album.”

Additionally, Martie plays a much bigger role this time around, taking over lead vocals on two tracks and sharing songwriting credits on seven of the project’s 11 songs.

“We approached it differently because we felt like okay, we are a band,” Martie says of the confidence-boost between the Hounds’ two albums. “We aren’t just two ex-Dixie Chicks anymore; we’re a band and we like our sound. We’re going to continue to do this and hopefully get better at it, and share something new this time around.”

While Martie and Emily insist Court Yard Hounds is not a side project, they won’t go so far as to say the Dixie Chicks are totally done. They are still in touch with Natalie, who released her first solo album, Mother, earlier this year. In fact, the Chicks reunited just last week to play at the Craven Country Jamboree in Saskatchewan, Canada. But fans of the “Not Ready to Make Nice” singers probably shouldn’t hold their breath for new music from the trio.

“I’ve always hoped that we would become a recording entity again, but I don’t know,” Martie admits. “I really learned to let go, and I’m so happy where everything is right now. I’m glad Natalie branched out and felt like she wanted to sing again and make a record; I think it’s actually made her more willing to play Dixie Chicks shows. We realized a long time ago, Emily and I, we couldn’t push her too hard, and we can’t push each other too hard. You’ve got to live your life first and do your job second. The older I get, the more laid-back I am about whatever happens, happens.”

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