Sooner or later a great live act will be tempted to get the best of their stuff out on a CD / DVD set and here is the country-rock trio’s offering on three discs. These performances were recorded on a set of US and Canadian dates and it sounds as though they were fun. Selling 30 million albums must teach you something, in this case it was plainly how to entertain and put together a fine setlist.
Lead track The Long Way Around punches in with a full band sound then a rattling acoustic guitar pumping away and that stately violin cruising through the mix. A tale of younger days sung with a bittersweet tone. Lubbock or Leave It is a heady rocker with smacking snare, more than a tinge of the great Rosanne Cash at full throttle in the delivery. How good do those voices sound here ? High-octane stuff that doesn’t let up. More of a farmyard style is used on Truth #2, great vocal and tinkling banjo
Easy Silence is a weighty ballad with block piano chords and a lyric on a steady domestic situation, perhaps. A haunting melody. Some Days You Gotta Dance is altogether funkier, with a rickety tempo and prominent fiddle. Next an uplifting song reminiscent of Reba, to this listener in the form of Long Time Gone. Spirited hoedown harmonies and plenty of pace. Slices of Dixie Chicken here ! Then a version – Nothing Compares 2 U, the average Prince song that everyone wants to cover. I would rather have heard U Got The Look.
Top Of The World is a sad ballad with pretty stringed backing ; the unlisted Something In The Air is a solid song that swings along. I expect they know the number from Tom Petty’s version of the Thunderclap Newman number. The girls sing it straight, here. Goodbye Earl is clearly a popular choice going by the audience reaction. The sort of story song that Dixie Chicks perform well. Probably the best vocal on the set.
The second CD starts with Travelin’ Soldier a country ballad and another tale, their forte. It is beautifully handled. Don’t Let Me Die In Florida is a Patty Griffin tune and shows her usual sass, This edition is strident and the band adopt a steady chug in emphasis. Daddy Lessons is a Beyonce track given a hokey arrangement over a skipping beat.
White Trash Wedding is sung acapella with brisk instrumental backing, bluegrass style. The musicians tear into this one. Solos spin across the mix. An instrumental follows, a bit of a Transatlantic tumble with Celtish riffs creeping in. Ready To Run sounds like an Irish trad song gone rocky. Another fine vocal over rolling bass.
Up next is the Bob Dylan composition Mississippi with a Byrdsy pace and a clear vocal. Certainly one of the best cuts on this collection and shows off the band well.
Landslide is the Fleetwood Mac tune Dixiefied, with some skill. Not a bad choice in this listing. The singing here is glorious. Cowboy Take Me Away sports a moody intro falling into arpeggio’d guitar. Wide Open Spaces is immediately recognised by the crowd. Sin Wagon rocks things up and has a cracking attack, the act does this type of number pretty well. Not Ready To Make Nice brings ominous chording and a noble reading of the lyric. I like the song and it fits well at this point in the programme. Final song Better Way has a tinge of the Eastern handled well by the group, a bit of an unusual closer.
So, a fan’s dream of a set and performed with top-notch players but perhaps also a good introduction to an act lacking nothing in skill, warmth and front.
(Thanks Doug and Emma)
Dixie Chicks’ ‘DCX MMXVI’ is out now on Sony Music.
For more information visit the band’s official website here: http://bit.ly/2wmIaQM