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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Review of @CourtYardHounds new album, Amelita - a must read!

When I was offered the opportunity to listen to the new album, Amelita, that Court Yard Hounds put out, I was so excited! One2One Network arranged for me to receive a digital download and CD for free, just so that I could tell you all what I think of it!

First of all, let me give you a quick background to Court Yard Hounds. The two artists in this band are none other than Emily Robison and Martie Maguire, two of the three members of the well-known Dixie Chicks. Amelita is their second album, and although they still perform now and again as part of the Dixie Chicks, this sound is so entrancingly their own that I really was hooked from the beginning. I wasn't the only one though, my brother, who is a bit of a whiz at the guitar, told me that the songs were indeed very catchy and made even him (a 15 year old boy) get the sound stuck in his head. I think I even heard him humming one of the songs this morning. His one regret? The lyrics aren't targeting 15 year old boys, so they don't connect with him on a personal basis. His words were, "It's easy to listen to, and the guitar is great. I kind of hear it in my head still... but it's not anything I've lived through. I think it's meant for someone older than me." Good words well said little bro. Your musical ear is dead-on though, the guitar playing is great.

And my opinion? Well, I think that for starters, my words below aren't going to do the music justice. Very rarely do I find an album in which I like all of the music from the get-go. Very, very rarely. And yet that is exactly what happened with Amelita. Now, I'm sure some of you are going to think to yourselves, "Oh, she's just saying that because she wants them to sound good." I'm really not. If I didn't like it for some reason, I'd find a way to politely tell you all. Fortunately though, the music spoke to me from the very first moment, and I typed away as I listened to each song. Here below are my first impressions, typed out while listening, unedited, and completely "me". I hope you enjoy reading my reviews almost as much as I enjoyed listening to the songs. (A link to purchase this album can be found at the bottom of the page.)

Sunshine - I love this song. From the very beginning I began to tap my foot. It's the kind of song that you instinctively Google the lyrics to just so that you can have the pleasure of singing along. And the tone of the song is perfect for the kind of person I am. I've always been one of those women that takes the words "you can't do that" as a personal challenge. When someone tries to knock me down, tell me I'll fail, insinuate that I'm not strong enough to accomplish what I set out to do... I tell myself (and them) just the opposite. My eternal optimism is half of what keeps me going, even when I can see the dim outlines of a brick wall ahead for myself. But you know what? I've learned in life that my optimism doesn't come from myself anyhow... it comes from my faith that God will always take care of me. Even when I mess up, I know that when I get to that brick wall, he'll open a door in it and I'll come out smelling like roses as usual! (Thanks God for all that you do for me!)

Rock All Night - This song reminded me of being a young woman, me and my friends getting ready to go out to our local hotspot for line dancing, and men in cowboy hats. We weren't exactly "rocking it" but we were certainly doing it up country-style. When I hear this song it makes me feel young(er) again and brings up some great memories of long nights and some killer outfits. It's all I can do when listening to this song to not call up some of my friends and see if they want to hit the town. Has anyone seen my dancin' boots?

Phoebe - I really like the guitar playing in the beginning of this song. This song reminded me of being a kid growing up in the country, and how my dad was always looking out for me. Unfortunately, my dad was looking to protect me from guys, not from the typical mean girls, so I had days when I came home feeling awfully picked on. When I grew up and moved out of the house though, I realized that the world did not revolve around high school (as so many of us thought that it did). I blossomed, I became something unto myself, and I sky-rocketed into my own little form of "success". The things that I was made to be ashamed of by my peers when I was younger became things that I considered strengths. My rough and rowdy appearance? Just part of my tough-country gal appeal. My tendency to say EXACTLY what I was thinking? Just part of my tell-it-like-it-is attitude. This song says to me: "You go girl. Hold your head up high like daddy taught you."

The Road You Take - The piano in this song is beautiful. From the beginning you can tell that this is going to be a serious song with a sweet message. This one really speaks to me because when I met my husband I was the type of person who pulled away whenever I got too close to someone. I had experienced a harsh heartbreak in the past and had put up an inner wall so that I never really opened up fully to anyone. No matter how much anyone I dated thought they knew me, I always kept a feeling of "apartness" to keep myself safe. There came a point with my husband when I realized that it was going to have to be all or nothing, and I decided it was worth the risk. So very glad that I did! This song gives me an incredible wave of emotion that makes me feel both powerful for breaking through that wall so long ago, and grateful for the fact that my husband stuck around until I did!

The World Smiles - LOVE the sound of this song. It's so uplifting and feels like the song has a secret to portray to me. It reminds me a bit of Enya to be perfectly honest - and she is one of my most favorite song-artists of all time! This song makes me want to grab a bottle of wine, some brushes and a canvas, and go outside to paint something. It makes me think of blue skies, green grass, sunshine, and running free through a field somewhere. What could be better than that?

Watch Your Step - Before I even heard the lyrics to this song, the beginning notes gave me a feeling that it was going to be sassy. It made me want to dress up in my country-best, grab my husband, and take him out for a night out at some hole-in-the-wall where I could remind him why he fell in love with this spunky girl in the first place! I used to be quite the spitfire (something that fades with time after you have kids), and this song makes me feel just about as ornery as I ever was. As a matter of fact, I looked in the mirror shortly after listening to this song and was quite surprised that my appearance was that of "mommy" rather than a wild young woman. Oh if only I was 21 again!

Aimless Upward - This song gave me an initial impression of trying to overcome difficulty. Just the sound of it made me think of a young girl, trying to make it in the world, trying to hold her head up high, trying to become something. When I started listening to the lyrics I was so pleased to hear that it really could hold that sort of a meaning. The picture in my head was immediately that of someone from the country trying to make it in a big city, where you're just one of a million, everyone trying to be noticed - everyone trying to get to the top! I feel like this frequently since I've moved from my country home in Indiana to the Florida suburbs, closer to a metropolis than I ever wanted to be. I feel like I'm trying to get my potential noticed among the thousands, but there is always someone out there who is perceived to be prettier, smarter, faster, stronger... some days it can be a struggle to tell yourself to keep going. As this song says though I will continue to "take my time" and rise upward. This song says to me: "If you keep going no matter what, it may take a while, but nothing and no one can stop you from getting there."

Amelita - This is a song of true female kinship. We've all had that one friend who puts herself out time and again for someone or something that isn't worth it. Many times we can do nothing but watch as her ship sinks, trying to reach for her even though she won't reach back. I have a friend in particular that I have watched do this so many times it is heartbreaking to me. She is now at a point in her life that I feel safe for her, but for so many years it was painful to see her stay with her sinking ship while I stood helplessly on the shore of life, wishing she would swim back. Too many times we women stay silent and allow our friends to drown in their own misery, out of fear of offending them. This song puts it so well to those women who think that this is their only opportunity for a man, a job, a family, or whatever the object they are clinging to: "Have you no pride? You've got the rest of your life!" Beautifully said. From personal experience, I can say that being in a relationship wreck is no fun. You know that it's bad, everyone else knows that it's bad, and yet you just cling on rather than put a short end to it. This song reminds me that we women get through our rough times because of all our besties who are just waiting to take our hand, lift us up, and save us from ourselves.

Divided - A true breakup song. So sad, so touching. We've all been through that part of a lost relationship... the items are being split up into boxes, there are feelings of regret on both sides, tender memories spring up of their own accord, and there is an intense feeling of loss - not just of the relationship, but of a shared area, inside jokes, special nicknames, the closeness that comes from the privilege of being able to touch or hold another. This song makes me think back to some of my past relationships with a sense of bitter-sweetness. I have a wonderful relationship with my husband, and I know that he is the one I'm supposed to be with, but I can still clearly remember the feelings of leaving, of loss, of transition, change, new beginnings, and last moments. I remember thinking that I was on the edge of losing so much, and yet I could see new things just on the horizon for me. It's such an emotional and incredible moment... wanting to hold someone for the last time and keep that in your memory, and yet knowing in the back of your mind that although it is the end for you and they, it is the start of something for you and whatever else you wish. Your entire being is full of the powerful awareness that you are standing between two of the most incredible gifts of humanity: Knowing another person intricately, and freedom to have the world open to you. So beautiful. So moving. This is a definite song to listen to.

Gets You Down - The mellow sound at the beginning of this song caught me from the very beginning. It talks about what to do when life is coming at you... will you be strong or will you run away? It is so soothing and sweet, the harmony of voices mingling to produce the type of beautiful sound I came to love in the Dixie Chicks' song Landslide. The song then takes an unexpected twist to call upon a partner, asking them what they will do with things get rough. Sweetly the lyrics continue as an offered answer to troubles, "You could always love me." It was such an endearing way to end this song and made me feel somehow happy and sad at the same time. It begins out a song speaking of strength in oneself, and turns into a song speaking of the strength in one's relationship.

Guy Like You - A lazy day song. It makes me think of swinging on a porch swing in the summer heat, watching the clouds move across the sky, a warm breeze, the sounds of nature, and being immersed in thoughts such as only a woman could have when she is having a quiet time to figure herself out. It made me realize that it's been a long time since I could truly go outside and have some inner reflection, all by myself for whatever period of time. Kids really do change everything! I have made arrangements now with my darling sister to take the children for a while so that I can lay out in the field and watch the sky pass by while I have some alone time to be one with myself and God. This song is just so peaceful, if you're looking to slow down and have some personal time, this will put you in the perfect mood.

Like my review of this album? Maybe it's time you took a listen for yourself! You can find Court Yard Hounds and grab their songs on Amazon or on iTunes.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know in the comment section below! Do you have an album that you'd like to be reviewed on my site? Send me an email at MasterofMom@gmail.com and we can talk over the details!

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