Court Yard Hounds’ Amelita effortlessly matches poignant messages against pointed ones. The album’s high watermarks spotlight Emily Robison and Martie Maguire’s soaring country-pop harmonies, as on “The Road You Take.”
The duo began composing the album the day after their 2010 self-titled debut album was released.
“Emily and I made a conscious approach to write as sisters,” says Maguire. “We thought there’d be a cool chemistry.”
CMT Edge: So, was the chemistry as good as you hoped?
Maguire: Yeah, yeah. We’d written together in the Dixie Chicks already, so we knew we worked well together. Songwriting is such a personal thing, and it’s hard to be in a room with somebody you don’t know and trust. Emily and I are brutally honest, but we can be and remain friends. (laughs)
Tell the story behind writing the title track.
That stemmed from an experience we had with the Chicks. We were down in Reynosa [Mexico] shooting the “Long Time Gone” video. When we came out of our trailers, we realized there was a brothel right there. All the girls were standing in their doorways waiting for their next guy to come along. It was really upsetting and eye-opening, and we held onto that. We made up a story about how if we were best friends with the girl who was doing that, we’d swoop down and save her.
How did “Sunshine” come to you?
Emily’s husband, Martin Strayer, came up with the guitar lick, and Emily and I were trying to write the lyrics. She kept hearing those words. It just dawned on her that it could be tongue-in-cheek and passive aggressive. (laughs) It’s about somebody that you call “sunshine” when they come around, but they’re not sunshine-y.
What drew you to the one cover, “Gets You Down”?
I was actually going through a divorce this time around, and my friend Alex Dezen sent me that song. It was one of those moments when you wish you had written a song. It’s exactly how you’re feeling. (laughs) I heard that song, and it was so personal to me. It wasn’t written about me, but I really connected to it. I sent the song with my voice on it to [co-producer] Jim Scott and Emily, and they were like, “Absolutely. It has to go on the record!”
You’ve said you wrote more than 25 songs for this album.
We write constantly. It’s nice to have more to pick from, and we pitch songs to other artists, so it’s not always songs for us. We did write with a focus in mind [this time] and they were definitely written for the second record.
Are some leftovers going toward a next record?
Yeah. We’ll keep them in the mix. Sometimes some get thrown out just because they might be similar in tempo or too much in the same feel, but we usually hang onto stuff and save them, and we’re definitely planning on a third record.