Dixie Chicks

Texas Platters

Phases and Stages

Dixie Chicks

Home (Open Wide/Monument/ Columbia)

Chiding country radio for losing touch with its roots while releasing Stevie Nicks covers as singles: arrogance or naiveté? To the Dixie Chicks' credit, Home makes that a much harder question than it should be. The album starts out promisingly with the breezy "Long Time Gone," an enjoyable slice of twang even if lyrical digs like "they sound tired but they don't sound haggard" are stale at this point. Entering uh-oh territory with the cover of Nicks' "Landslide," plinking banjo and impeccable harmonies actually suit the song. The Chicks want to have it both ways; although Home isn't entirely successful, it doesn't get out-and-out boring until the second half, laden with generic songs about believing in love and needing more of it, plus a lullaby that sounds like Don Henley's "The End of the Innocence." On the positive side of the balance sheet are the bouncy "Tortured, Tangled Hearts," which works guests Bryan Sutton (guitar) and Adam Steffey (mandolin) of Nickel Creek for all their worth, and the lightning-quick barn-burner "White Trash Wedding." This 100% appropriate sequel to Fly's "Sin Wagon" ("Say I do and kiss me quick 'cause the baby's on its way") demonstrates that, as precise and studious as they might sound on a triple-A tune like Patty Griffin's "Truth No. 2," the Chicks are much more entertaining when they let their hair down. If only they'd done it more often.

**

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