Picks and Pans Review: Dixie Chicks

updated 05/29/2006 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/29/2006 01:00AM

Taking the Long Way

REVIEWED BY CHUCK ARNOLD

CRITIC'S CHOICE

COUNTRY-ROCK

Forgive, sounds good/Forget, I'm not sure I could/They say time heals everything/But I'm still waiting." So sings frontwoman Natalie Maines on "Not Ready to Make Nice," the defiant first single of the Dixie Chicks' seventh studio disc and first since the backlash from her anti-Bush comments made at a 2003 concert. Indeed, having been blacklisted by some country stations and even having received death threats, the Chicks are still "mad as hell." You can also hear that newfound edge—call them the Dixie Chicks with Attitude—on the excellent "The Long Way Around": "Moved with the shakers/Wouldn't kiss all the a—that they told me to." Yes, this time it's personal: Cowriting all their material for the first time, the Chicks also poignantly address the infertility struggles faced by Emily Robison and Martie Maguire (on "So Hard") and celebrate their kids (on "Lullaby"). With production by Rick Rubin—who has worked with everyone from Run-DMC and Red Hot Chili Peppers to Johnny Cash—and guests like Bonnie Raitt, John Mayer and Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, they move further away from the sound of the country establishment.
[stars 3.5]

DOWNLOAD THIS: "The Long Way Around"

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