It is no secret that although I am not the biggest fan and supporter of country music I have always and will always love the Dixie Chicks and their fearless leader Natalie Maines. This is why I have been tracking the progress of her new solo album for what feels like two years and am happy to report that her teaming up with Ben Harper as producer and releasing "Mother" is and will go down as one of the best solo projects ever. I easily give them album a 9 out of 10, and here is why.
It has been ten years since the infamous George Bush quote and seven years since the Dixie Chicks released some new music. Yet Natalie did not let those years pass by without working on something. This new CD "Mother" shows her dedication to not only her voice, but her creative choices and musical tastes. Its no surprise that she turned her back on country music for most of this album, since well they did such a great job turning their back on her ten years ago. This album is full of rock, soulful, and classic tunes. A great departure from her time with the Dixie Chicks. I approve.
Maines has never been a songwriters, in fact its probably what I like about her the most. Her talent is her voice and her creative decisions using her gift so it was no surprise she relied on others for help and/or to cover their work. In doing this she was able to focus on what she wanted to do with the songs and creating new meanings and sound for songs that even the original creators wouldn't have thought of.
She covers "Mother" by Roger Waters to an amazing degree, as well as "Without You" by Eddie Vedder. In both pieces she is able to create her own story within the songs. Patty Griffin's "Silver Bells" is given a rock spin and the Jayhawks tune of "I'd Run Away" and makes the pop tune a ballad unlike any I've heard.
My two favorite tunes from the album are "Free Life" a song written by Dixie Chick writer Dan Wilson and the Jeff Buckley cover of "Lover You Should Have Come Over". Both show her vocal ability is almost unmatched in this style and gives her a range that most emerging artists would die for. Both songs are so good and so raw that they almost move you to tears.
So yeah as you can tell I love this album and would highly recommend it for anyone who is looking for a great album. I will post my two favorite tracks below. Listen, enjoy, and respect what I believe to be one of the better gritty voices of our generation.
Here is a live version of "Lover You Should Have Come Over" on Howard Stern. Its amazing. Seriously how can this get any better.
And finally "Free Life" which includes some of my favorite lyrics:
"Lets fall in love again, with music as our guide
We'll raise our ready hands, and let go for the ride
Down to unknown lands, where lovers meet... and hide
We've got these lives for free
We don't know where they've been
We don't know where they'll go
What you going to spend your free life on?"