Dixie Chicks Taking the Long Way

Taking the Long Way raises the bar yet again for these sweet sounding country singers with a "we won’t back down” rock attitude. The lead single, "Not Ready to Make Nice,” shows that they still believe in their stance against George Dubya. The song tackles this freedom of speech issue and the lingering anger it produced. Produced by über studio man Rick Rubin, the record finds the Chicks evolving by becoming even better songwriters to create a sound that leans more towards the Eagles circa 1970 versus middle-of-the road Nashville circa 2006. Natalie Maines, Emily Robison and Martie Maguire have a talent for words and their three-part harmony has a way of weaving its way under your skin. The disc also sees the trio co-writing a lot of songs: from Jayhawks founder Gary Louris to Mike Campbell (Tom Petty and Heartbreakers), Neil Finn (Crowded House), Keb’ Mo and Sheryl Crow. Overall, this kick-ass trio of countrified ladies bring the right mix of ballads and country rockers on their latest disc. With nary a weak track on the disc, it’s no wonder that the band are the highest-selling female group in any genre. (Sony BMG)