Court Yard Hounds - 'Amelita'

As two thirds of the award-winning country group the Dixie Chicks, sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire have already built quite a name for themselves within country music as both strong vocalists and brilliant musicians albeit being more in the background. The sisters have since formed duo Court Yard Hounds and their sophomore album Amelita proves this is a serious band for the pair and not just a stopping gap as many journalists have wondered since the Dixie Chicks have not formally announced they are disbanding.
Fans were treated to some of the songs that would be featured on this album in the duo's previously released EP Sunshine - you can find my review here. It is a great EP and in my opinion set the tone well for what is a brilliant album. Whilst staying with the Americana influences introduced in their first album, Amelita shows more versatility and also continues to showcases the duo's skills as songwriters - as well as singers. Once again Emily Robison takes the majority of the vocals with Martie Maguire singing lead on Gets You Down and A Guy Like You - I really like Martie's voice so it's nice to see her take a bit more of a lead with two strong songs. 
Whilst my two favourite tracks from the EP - Sunshine and Amelita - have in no way lost their appeal, there are also more tracks on here which impress. The World Smiles has similar instrumentalisation to Sunshine and Amelita but lyrically is more optimistic with lines such as "if I believe in the good stuff and open my eyes up the world smiles at me". It also continues the summery feel of the earlier tracks through a upbeat banjo hook and a light accompanying drum beat amongst other instrumentalisation.
Different to the summery, light feel of the aforementioned tracks, Watch Your Step has more of a bluesy, darker feel but works just as well. With lines such as "you might just fall in love with me, you better watch your step" it harkens back to the juxtaposition in Sunshine of someone who makes everyone feel sad being called "Sunshine" and in my opinion that is something that Court Yard Hounds do well. The instrumentalisation is heavier with the drums and electric guitar taking prominence, but still not overpowering. I do also feel it is worth mentioning The Road You Take. It is one of the more sombre tracks on the album but progresses well and keeps the listener interested.

Track listing.... 
  1. Sunshine - Martin Strayer, Emily Robison, Martie Maguire, Jonathan Brooke, Alex Dezen
  2. Amelita - Robison, Maguire
  3. The World Smiles - Maguire, Strayer, Robison, Greg Kurstin, Tyler Lyle
  4. Aimless Upward - Maguire, Robison, Lyle
  5. A Guy Like You - Strayer, Maguire
  6. Rock All Night - Robison, Strayer
  7. Phoebe - Maguire, Natalie Maines, Strayer
  8. Divided - Strayer, Robison, Maguire
  9. Gets You Down - Dezen, Salim Nourallah
  10. Watch Your Step - Robsion, Strayer, Maguire, Kurstin
  11. The Road You Take - Robison, Maguire, Strayer
  12. Are You Man Enough? [iTUNES EDITION] - Robison, Maguire, Ryan Adams

Emily and Martie have previously toured the UK as both part of the Dixie Chicks and as Court Yard Hounds and I hope they return soon. Their debut Court Yard Hounds album was okay but I do feel this is a much better album and would definitely recommend purchasing it, even if you found you didn't like the duo's first album. For me, Sunshine and Amelita are the stand-out tracks but there is plenty more on here that will appeal to listeners.


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