updated 04/13/2010 AT 12:00 PM ET
•originally published 04/13/2010 AT 1:35 PM ET
It’s been four years since the Dixie Chicks released their Grammy-winning album Taking the Long Way in 2006. But the lull in releases doesn’t mean the band members haven’t been creating.
While the Chicks are still on hiatus, sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison have formed a new band, the Court Yard Hounds, and are readying their first album, a self-titled disc, for release on May 4. And PEOPLE.com is giving you a sneak peek – with an exclusive first listen to the lilting “I Miss You,” which features Robison on lead vocals.
Listen to "I Miss You" from the Court Yard Hounds’s debut album
“We’re looking at it like a new chapter in music,” Maguire says of the project in press materials. “We definitely are going to tour this and make another record. I know this isn’t just a one-time, get-it-off-our-chests, get-these-songs-recorded-and-go-back-to-our-lives thing.”
Writing songs based on very personal experiences, including Robison’s divorce from singer-songwriter Charlie Robison, and not having Chicks’ lead singer Natalie Maines in the mix, took a leap of confidence.
“It can be intimidating when you sing with someone with the power that Natalie has,” Robison says. “It was a huge learning curve for both of us … to figure out what your voice is after you ve sung so long just trying to blend. But I felt like I could interpret the songs because they meant something to me. It wasn t like I was just trying to just sing any song. It was something very personal.
But don’t worry, Dixie Chicks fans: Robison and Maguire say they’re not breaking up.
“I think the elephant in the room for people is always, ‘Well, what s going on with the Chicks?’ When that presents itself, we’ll figure out how to marry the two, says Robison. “Natalie will be the first one to tell you that she’s very supportive; she just doesn t want to be in the studio and going through the whole process right now.”
Continues Robison: “Martie and I love to work and create and be making something, so being off was difficult for us. Just to be able to fulfill that and not have to dismantle the Dixie Chicks – why can’t we do both? We’re going to push to make it a complete entity and have fun with it.”