With Natalie Maines on an indefinite hiatus, the other two Dixie Chicks — guitarist-banjoist Emily Robison and her sister, fiddler Martie Maguire — have recorded an album on their own, as Court Yard Hounds (a reference to the best-selling novel City of Thieves). “Emily and I had the itch,” Maguire says, “and every time we’d call Natalie and say ‘are you ready?’ she wasn’t ready. She wanted a clear-cut break.”
Recorded mostly at Maguire’s home studio in Austin, the intimate pop-folk album features Robison’s first-ever lead vocals and songs inspired by her recent divorce from country act Charlie Robison. “When Natalie’s singing a song it has to strike a chord with her,” Robison says. “These songs are very personal.” Robison is joined by Jakob Dylan on “See You in the Spring.” The duo will debut their new band at South by Southwest in March, with the album dropping in May and a tour to follow.
Although Robison and Maguire insist the Chicks haven’t disbanded, they admit they rarely see Maines, who lives in L.A. “I’m hoping she’ll come out to one of our shows,” Maguire says (the group’s last album, Taking the Long Way, came out in 2006). “Maybe it’ll inspire her to want to do music again.”