Court Yard Hounds

Court Yard Hounds are sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire — two-thirds of the Dixie Chicks, not a bad place to start for a country duo. Toss in plentiful two-part harmonies, a few ringing love songs ("The Coast"), the odd woodsy Band-like ballad ("See You in the Spring," with Jakob Dylan) and some gorgeous guitar-and-violin folk songs ("April's Love"), and it adds up to one of the year's better country records. Natalie Maines' feistiness is missed, but Robison, who wrote most of the songs, has a way with a hook — and those harmonies make even the weepiest weepers go down smooth.