The Dixie Chicks' amicable but indefinite hiatus hasn't ruled out the occasional reunion, but despite the not-so-bad blood, competition lurks. Two months after frontwoman Natalie Maines released her brooding solo debut, sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire counter with saccharine sophomore effort Amelita. As their side project begins to feel more like a full-time gig, the local duo offers unchecked buoyancy, tapping a top-down aesthetic while abandoning the curmudgeon tendencies that surfaced in the Chicks. The title track inhabits Tex-Mex influences, adding the sibling's signature fiddle work into a kind of mariachi-pop garnish. "Watch Your Step" and "Rock All Night" sound handed down from Sheryl Crow herself, rooted in rock-pop sensibility, but with an unabashed twang. Amelita slows its canter briefly for "The Road You Take," a piano dirge suited for the introspection of a woman unsure and in love. Amelita makes it abundantly clear the Dixie Chicks bite was brought by its snappy singer, but Maguire and Robison's sweetness maintains its charms.
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