Friday, March 10, 2006
– The Dixie Chicks announced Friday they will release their fifth album, "Taking the Long Way," in late May with Rick Rubin producing and the Chicks writing all 14 songs.
A tour is expected to start this summer.
A press release said the songs would delve into "deeply private and resoundingly political" subjects. Songs look at small-town narrow-mindedness ("Lubbock or Leave It") and the psychology of celebrity ("Everybody Knows").
It was the group's forays into politics -specifically Natalie Maines' comment while in London against President Bush - that got the trio into hot water with the country community with some radio stations refusing to play their songs.
"Everything felt more personal this time," said lead singer Natalie Maines. "I go back to songs we've done in the past and there's just more maturity, depth, intelligence on these. They just feel more grown-up."
The uproar over those comments is the jumping off point for the lead-off track, "Not Ready to Make Nice." "The stakes were definitely higher on that song," says Emily Robison. "We knew it was special because it was so autobiographical, and we had to get it right. And once we had that song done, it freed us up to do the rest of the album without that burden."
"Silent House" examines the emotions that come from watching an older relative struggle with Alzheimer's. "It's So Hard When It Doesn't Come Easy" addresses infertility, an issue that both Martie Maguire and Robison have faced. The Chicks debuted the gospel-inflected "I Hope," co-written with Keb' Mo', during last year's telethon benefiting the victims of Hurricane Katrina; the album version features a guitar solo by John Mayer.
Rubin assembled a band including Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, session player Larry Knechtel, and Heartbreakers Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell.
Rubin also matched the Chicks with co-writers including Dan Wilson (who wound up collaborating on six of the songs), Pete Yorn, and Gary Louris of The Jayhawks.
A Southern California vibe is said to inform the songs with inspiratin provided by The Eagles, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and the Mamas and the Papas.
The Chicks released "Wide Open Spaces" in 1998 and "Fly" the following year. "Home" was out in 2002, followed by "Top of the World: Live."
"This album was total therapy," says Maines of the new music. "I'm way more at peace now. Writing these songs and saying everything we had to say makes it possible to move on."