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Country - Released October 26, 2010 | Columbia - Legacy

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Appearing a few months after the budget-line Playlist, The Essential Dixie Chicks is the kind of comprehensive collection this trio deserves. Spanning 30 tracks over two discs, The Essential rounds up all of the Dixie Chicks' big hits but runs in reverse, opening with selections from 2006’s Taking the Long Way, then running back through 2002’s Home, 1999’s Fly, and 1998’s Wide Open Spaces. Some may grumble about the sequencing, but it flows nicely and has all the hits while illustrating the depth of the band’s catalog, which is enough to make it as essential as billed. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released April 15, 2016 | Open Wide - Monument - Columbia

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Country - Released January 12, 2018 | Columbia

The Dixie Chicks staged a reunion tour in 2016, beginning the trek in April of that year and wrapping up nearly a year later in Canada. Released in August 2017, DCX MMXVI is a CD/DVD set commemorating the trio's last stop on the U.S. leg, capturing the full show they gave on October 10, 2016. It's a crisp, assured performance that finds the Dixie Chicks hitting all of their major songs and threading in numerous covers, including a telling version of Beyoncé's "Daddy Lessons." If the performance is occasionally so polished it gleams, it also benefits from the trio's professionalism -- not just in their abundant chops but how they can pull off an entertaining show. Perhaps that doesn't make for a major record, but it's enough for fans who have been waiting a long time for a new Dixie Chicks record of any sort. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released April 15, 2016 | Monument

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The crossover hit that launched a million girl-power imitators, Wide Open Spaces puts a fresh, optimist polish on its deep country roots. Opener "Can Love You Better," which struts with dobro twang, and "There’s Your Trouble" owe to the sass of The Judds and Shania Twain but Dixie Chicks' lead vocalist Natalie Maines immediately stands out as one of the most confident voices of her generation. Matched with the backing vocals and strings-playing of sisters Martie and Emily Erwin, it's lightning in a bottle. Even before the first verse, the title single evokes wide, open spaces via banjo and fiddle and by the time it hits the staggering harmonies of the chorus, the song absolutely soars. Ballad "Loving Arms" (first made famous by Kris Kristofferson) haunts with steel guitar and an angel's chorus. Drinking song "Tonight the Heartache's on Me" is whiskey woozy, and "Let 'Er Rip" unspools a boogie-woogie straight out of Bakersfield. The album wraps up with a barnburner cover of Bonnie Raitt's "Give It Up or Let Me Go."  It’s all loose in attitude but as technically tight as they come, proving these Chicks are their own women. © Qobuz
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Country - Released April 15, 2016 | Open Wide - Columbia

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Fly

Country - Released April 15, 2016 | Monument

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Country - Released July 26, 2002 | Open Wide - Monument - Columbia

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Delivering a successor to their breakthrough smash Wide Open Spaces was easy -- Fly followed a year afterward, sounding sleek and satisfying. Following that album turned out to be a little more difficult for the Dixie Chicks, not least because they were involved in an ugly battle with their record company over royalties. While they were away, country radio grew stricter, but there were undercurrents of change, particularly in the grassroots success of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. The Dixie Chicks always had deep country roots, but it was entirely conceivable that they could have chosen the pop route, since it's always the safest bet for established stars to follow the mainstream -- especially after they have been away for a while. Fortunately, one thing this trio has never been is predictable, and they were emboldened by their successful battle with the label, along with the O Brother, leading to the stunner that is Home, their sixth album. There may be a Stevie Nicks cover here, but there are no concessions to pop anywhere; there are hardly any electric guitars, actually. This is a pure country album, loaded with fiddles, acoustic guitars, and close harmonies, but retaining the Chicks' signature flair, sense of humor, and personality. It's a vibrant, quirky, heartfelt record that finds the group investing as much in a funny, rollicking number like "White Trash Wedding" or something as sadly sweet as "Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)." But the key to the album is that, as they so brilliantly put it on the wonderful opener, "Long Time Gone," they recognize many modern country singers "sound tired but they don't sound Haggard" and "have money but they don't have Cash" -- and this is a sentiment that doesn't just apply to those riding the charts, but to the po-faced alt-country contenders who are too serious to have fun. They deftly balance modern attitudes with classic instrumentation, all built on terrific songwriting, winding up with an album that feels purer than anything on the charts, yet much livelier and genuine than alt-country. This is what country music in 2002 should sound like. With Home, the Dixie Chicks illustrate that country music should be simple but adventurous, sincere but fun. In doing so, they've delivered not just their best album, but what's arguably the best country album yet released in the 2000s. Needless to say, an instant classic. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released March 4, 2020 | Columbia

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Country - Released April 7, 2006 | Open Wide - Columbia

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The road leading away from Home, the Dixie Chicks' acclaimed 2002 return to straight-ahead country, proved to be quite rocky for the Texan trio, largely due to anti-George W. Bush and antiwar comments lead singer Natalie Maines made during the long crawl to the 2003 Iraqi War. Maines' words, initially spoken off the cuff in concert but then repeated in numerous interviews, earned her plenty of enemies within the country community (most notably Toby Keith), but despite the hailstorm of publicity, Maines, Martie Maguire, and Emily Robison did not back down, even as their country audience slowly diminished. But by that point, the Dixie Chicks were bigger than a mere country act anyway: they were international superstars. Their sound and sensibility played to an audience that was much bigger and more self-consciously sophisticated than the country audience, so their shift from country to pop on 2006's Taking the Long Way feels natural; even the neo-bluegrass of Home felt like a kindred spirit to the alt-country movement and such AAA singer/songwriters as Sheryl Crow, not the pure bluegrass of Ricky Skaggs, or even the progressive Alison Krauss. Given the controversy of 2003, the conscious distancing from country makes sense -- and given songs like the defiant "Not Ready to Make Nice" and the redneck-baiting "Lubbock or Live It," the Dixie Chicks don't sound like they're in retreat on Taking the Long Way, either; they merely sound like they're being themselves. And Taking the Long Way is as genuine a Dixie Chicks album as Home or Wide Open Spaces, feeling like an accurate reflection of the trio's current life. They are now savvy, sophisticated urbanites -- the album cover makes it seem like they've stepped out of Sex and the City -- and the music reflects that. It's rooted in country -- or more specifically country-rock -- and it wouldn't sound out of place in Nashville, but sounds more suited for upscale apartments and coffeehouses. The sound might be a little more NPR than hot country, but the trio's harmonies still shine brightly, they still play with conviction, and they still have a strong body of songs here. No doubt reflecting the influence of producer Rick Rubin, the Chicks work with songwriters well outside of the Music Row mainstream: naturally, Sheryl Crow makes an appearance as a co-writer here, but so does acclaimed pop tunesmith Neil Finn, alt-country mainstay Gary Louris, bluesman Keb' Mo', Heartbreaker Mike Campbell, and through much of the album, Semisonic/Trip Shakespeare frontman Dan Wilson. All are accomplished songwriters whose strengths may not seem to lie in country, but they all know how to structure a song, and they help give the group direction and the album focus. Rubin's skill on picking collaborators for the trio makes up for his typically flat production -- it's clean and classy but not colorful, which it begs to be, given that this is a pop album filled with different styles and textures from rollicking rock & roll to soulful laments to sweet ballads. But this lack of zest in the production is forgivable because Taking the Long Way is otherwise a strong, confident affair that is far from suggesting the Dixie Chicks are being cowardly for moving away from country. Rather, they're bravely asserting their identity through this varied, successful crossover move. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released November 21, 2003 | Open Wide - Monument - Columbia

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Fly

Country - Released August 27, 1999 | Monument

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Country - Released January 15, 1998 | Monument

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The crossover hit that launched a million girl-power imitators, Wide Open Spacesputs a fresh, polish optimist on its deep country roots. Opener "Can Love You Better," which struts with dobro twang, and "There's Your Trouble" singer of the Judges and Shania Twain but Dixie Chicks' voice vocalist Natalie Maines immediately stands out as one of the most confident voices of her generation. Martie and Emily Erwin, it's a lightning in a bottle.  Even before the first verse, the title single evokes wide, open spaces via banjo and fiddle and by the time it hits the staggering harmonies of the chorus, the song absolutely soars. Ballad "Loving Arms" (first made famous by Kris Kristofferson) with guitar and an angel's chorus. Drinking song "Tonight the Heartache's on Me" is whiskey woozy, and "Let's Er Rip" unspools a boogie-woogie straight out of Bakersfield. The album wraps up with a barnburner cover of Bonnie Raitt's "Give It Up or Let Me Go." It's all loose in attitude but as technically tight as they come, these chicks are their own women. © Qobuz
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Country - Released May 28, 2010 | Columbia - Legacy

It's a sign of the times that the Dixie Chicks' first compilation isn't a high-profile release but rather a budget-line entry in Sony's Playlist series; greatest-hits albums aren't necessarily big-ticket items, but rather a way to get all the big tunes in a quick download. Playlist doesn't quite fit the bill for the Dixie Chicks: this series is designed to balance big hits with album tracks, intentionally bypassing some charting singles, so there are a few major ones missing here, including "I Can Love You Better," "There's Your Trouble," "You Were Mine," "Goodbye Earl," "Ready to Run," "Tonight the Heartache's on Me," "Cold Day in July," and "Some Days You Gotta Dance." That said, Playlist does have the biggest hits -- "Wide Open Spaces," "Sin Wagon," "Long Time Gone," "Landslide," "Not Ready to Make Nice" -- and the tracks are sharply selected, making for a good, representative compilation if not quite a definitive one. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released April 15, 2016 | Columbia - Legacy

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