NASHVILLE It's been a roller-coaster year for Texas
quintet Sons of the Desert, who
release their MCA Nashville debut, Change, this week, after
leaving Epic Records over a couple of song disputes.
The band claimed "creative differences" with Epic and parent label Sony
Music Nashville on their unreleased sophomore album, citing issues
involving their losing the single release of the song "Goodbye Earl"
HREF="http://media.addict.com/music/Dixie_Chicks/Goodbye_Earl.ram">RealAudio excerpt of Dixie Chicks' version COLOR="#003163">Dixie Chicks
HREF="http://media.addict.com/music/Dixie_Chicks/Goodbye_Earl.ram">RealAudio excerpt of Dixie Chicks' version) to the
COLOR="#003163">Dixie Chicks who posted a #2
Billboard hit with it and their own song "Albuquerque"
HREF="http://media.addict.com/music/Sons_Of_The_Desert/Albuquerque.ram"> RealAudio excerpt
RealAudio excerpt). The Sons felt they'd been given short shrift
on "Albuquerque," owing to a produced version they didn't like.
The Sons had been singing "Earl" in concert, and they recorded it for
their second album. The Chicks began playing it live and recorded it on
their album Fly. But when it came time for choosing singles, Sony
gave permission for the Dixie Chicks not Sons of the Desert
to release the song.
After the male-bashing brouhaha surrounding "Goodbye Earl," the Sons
find it interesting to note that men originally recorded the song, which
has a "Thelma and Louise" theme.
"We've been told when we sing it, it's taken like a story an
audio movie but that when females sing it, it's taken literally,"
Sons frontman Drew Womack said.
His brother, guitarist Tim Womack,
further explained: "We played the song for several radio stations, and
we never received comments calling it male-bashing."
Representatives for Sony Music Nashville and the Dixie Chicks declined
A New Day With MCA
The group said goodbye to these woes, however. When MCA Nashville
recruited the Sons for its roster, the quintet parted with Epic.
"[MCA Nashville President] Tony Brown was a fan of our first album and
said he wouldn't try to change us; he just wanted to get us out in front
of more people," bass player Doug
"We've really gained a new sense of respect and confidence with this
change," added Drew Womack, who co-wrote five of 11 songs on
Change, compared with three on the unreleased project.
"The same goes for the studio," Virden continued. "We were recording
within two or three weeks of signing our deal, and we had a lot more
input with this album." Tim Womack also appreciated the rush into the
recording process, as "we had started second-guessing ourselves."
Besides their MCA debut album, the Sons also recently provided
background vocals on unrelated Lee Ann
Womack's hit "I Hope You Dance." When we first heard this
song, it was magic," Drew Womack said. "We've been fortunate to be a
part of some great songs."
They also backed Ty Herndon on his
#1 hit "It Must Be Love," and Drew Womack co-wrote the
COLOR="#003163">Kenny Chesneychart-topper "She's Got It
Their own material becomes more rocking on Change, a switch from
their ballad-heavy debut that spawned the hits "Whatever Comes First,"
"Hand of Fate" and "Leaving October."
But their emphasis on strong lyrics and harmony continues, and the aptly
named title track seems as if it were written for them. "Tony called us
and said, 'We found the title track and first single.' It had to be,
because of what we've been through," explained Drew Womack, who even
changed his physical appearance by cropping his long locks.
What's more, the album sounds more like their live-performance style
down to "Real Fine Love," a song by John
Hiatt, whose songs they frequently draw upon in concert.
"[Hiatt] is one of my biggest influences," Drew Womack said. "But we
took out one verse, to shorten it, so you'll have to buy the Hiatt
version for its entirety."
A new version of "Albuquerque" is edgier than the slower counterpart
previously released as a single. "We wanted to cut it again, to sound
like our live performance," Drew Womack said. "Albuquerque" was written
by tunesmiths Chris Lindsey and
Stephonie Seekel, who also
contribute "Everybody's Gotta Grow Up Sometime," which tells a tale
about GI Joe ditching the IRS by hiding out in Mexico.
Other highlights include the textured cut "From Goodbye to Hello," which
marks the first song finished by co-writers Drew and Tim Womack and
Virden, and "Too Far to Where You Are," which finds Drew Womack wrapping
his pipes around a soaring pop melody originally on hold for country
superstar Tim McGraw.
"We wanted to do something like some of the '80s bands we liked, and
this one reminds of Squeeze," Drew
Takin' It On The Road
Sons of the Desert will hit the road in support of the album on the
Spare Change Tour, beginning June 16 in Hastings, Neb., through Sept.
16, when they'll wrap up in Hutchinson, Kan.
According to Virden, the tour will be a return to their club-circuit
roots. "We'll be playing some free shows at smaller venues, which feels
good because that's where we came from."