“Gaslighter” taps into modern themes without losing the Dixie Chicks’ nostalgic greatness

The Dixie Chicks' newest release "Gaslighter" is the title song of their upcoming album. Photo courtesy of the Dixie Chicks / YouTube

By Hannah Harn
BU News Service

“Just so you know,” lead singer Natalie Maines said to a packed house in London in March 2003. “We’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.”

It’s been 14 years since their last new full-length album, 17 since Maines commented on then-President George W. Bush on a stage in London, and since the Dixie Chicks were effectively cut out of the country music industry. 

Since then, they’ve had solo and side projects, featured on Beyonce’s “Daddy Lessons,” and even cameoed on Taylor Swift’s recent album Lover. They toured some of their classics, like “Not Ready to Make Nice” and “Cold Day in July” from 2016 to 2017, releasing their live album DCX MMXVI in 2018.

Now, the Dixie Chicks are back, and they don’t mean to be shy about it.

The iconic country girl gang released the title song of their new album “Gaslighter” Wednesday. The full album is set to be released in early May.

Fans new and old will enjoy the classic Dixie Chicks energy of the track. Hopefully, they’ll carry that vibe throughout the album, which will be their last studio record with Sony, after which they’re expected to sign a new record deal or become an independent group. 

In an era of ear-worm protest anthems, women reclaiming their power through #MeToo movement and the fervent, frequent nostalgia Millennials and Gen-Zers have for the simpler days of the ‘90s and 2000s, this new single plays into those trends while also tapping into what made the Dixie Chicks so beloved in the first place. 

Longtime fans of the impressive harmonies in songs like “Cowboy Take Me Away” and “Ready to Run” have a lot to look forward to with “Gaslighter,” which kicks off with a no-nonsense, neatly a capella lead. It’s bright, tastefully poppy and banjo-adjacent.

Lead singer Maines keeps up that same flirty twang that makes “Goodbye Earl” so easy to sing (or scream) along to. Below the main instrumentals, the percussion sets a rhythm that stays upbeat without feeling anxious. 

Its country-pop feel makes it the kind of song that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Mamma Mia-style musical. But it’s also biographical. In an interview on Spiritualgasm, Maines said “Gaslighter” was sparked by her own divorce from actor Adrian Pasdar. The song doesn’t shy away from that vulnerability, pulling back on the reins briefly after the bridge for a more contemplative moment before launching back into the chorus.

The song voices Maines’ (and many women’s) emotions toward her partner without feeling too much of a direct attack. It gets personal but it remains relatable. Fans don’t have to have been divorced to get the message or connect to it.

The single’s biggest success is that it’s legitimately fun to listen to. It’s hard not to sing along and there’s no doubt it will perform just as well on a stage as it does on a car radio.

The world has spent so long, and the Dixie Chicks definitely have spent so long, fighting back against that and showing those in positions of power that they won’t tolerate this treatment anymore. 

“Gaslighter” is a fight song made for the sake of fighters everywhere, not encouraging them to fight, but to walk away, victorious.

 “Gaslighter” is available on most streaming services after its release March 4, with the full-length album expected to be released May 1.

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