Natalie Maines is plotting her first tour since 2006, and what will be her first-ever solo tour. The Dixie Chicks' lead singer is branching out on her own with a solo album, Mother, and has tapped the record's producer, fellow Grammy winner Ben Harper, to join her on the road.

"I get to be a sideman!" Ben tells Billboard, explaining that the two have been friends for a long time and live in the same neighborhood. Natalie jokes they've been "threatening" to collaborate on a project for years. She insists the upcoming album, due in stores May 7, is a dramatic departure from anything she's recorded in the past.

"I wanted this music to be very different from the Dixie Chicks," Natalie says of the rock-infused CD (quote via Billboard). "Lots of albums by lead singers might just as well have been made by the band, but I think this is very different from anything the Chicks could make. That separation and distinction was important."

The title track for the 10-song album is taken from a song on Pink Floyd's classic album, The Wall. The CD include also includes Natalie's covers of songs by Eddie Vedder and Jeff Buckley, as well as an original song written by fellow Dixie Chicks members Martie Maguire and Emily Robison. Natalie is still in touch with her former bandmates and will perform with them at a few dates in Canada this summer. However, "there's really no plans for the Chicks after that," she reports, also revealing that Martie and Emily have recorded a new album as Court Yard Hounds, the duo the sisters formed after the Chicks went on hiatus.

Natalie Maines' Mother will be released on May 7. Tour dates in support of the album have not yet been announced.

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