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Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines returns with solo album 'Mother'

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Natalie Maines, the Dixie Chick whose criticism of then-President George W. Bush’s handling of the Iraq War while on tour in Europe a decade ago got the group effectively banned from country radio, has resurfaced this week with her debut solo album, “Mother.”

The lead-off track is a Beatles-esque arrangement of Eddie Vedder’s “Without You” and, not surprisingly, it’s generating a lot of enthusiastic feedback from Chicks fans.

“So happy you are back in the studio,” Pat Limb Myers posted in the comments section of Maines' official website. “Have missed the Dixie Chicks so much.”

Several commented on the long absence of the trio, although Maines' bandmates and sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire put out a duo album in 2010 as the Court Yard Hounds. The last Dixie Chicks album, “Taking the Long Way,” was released in 2006, and won Grammys as overall album of the year and country album of the year.

“Mother,” released May 7, was co-produced by Maines and guitarist-singer-songwriter Ben Harper, and it was recorded in his studio. The title reflects her status as a mom, but in a recent interview she said motherhood hadn’t subsumed her perspective as an artist.

“I try to keep those two things separate,” she said. “I wouldn’t want the music to become soft because I'm a mother, although I do like positive, upbeat music. But it’s not for that reason.”

In a Twitter chat Wednesday, she said she expected to do more touring this year -- she previewed some of the solo music in March at the South By Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas -- but the only confirmed shows she has to date are four summer festival appearances in Canada in July.

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