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Chicks - Gaslighter

  by Zena Grieg

published: 13 / 9 / 2020

Chicks - Gaslighter
Label: Sony Music
Format: CD


Political first album in fourteen years by multi-Grammy Award and bestselling country artists The Chicks

Fourteen years after the Dixie Chicks (singer Natalie Maines and multi-instrumentalist sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer) swept the board at the 2007 Grammy Awards, winning in five categories, they are back! They are now called ‘The Chicks, having dropped ‘Dixie’ for its Confederate-era connotations, and they have a new album ‘Gaslighter’, a title strikingly contemporary (‘gaslighting’ referring to intimate psychological abuse and large-scale political manipulation). Shunned by the country music establishment for publicly opposing the Iraq war, the group's Grammy-winning album ‘Taking The Long Way’ was a tour de force response to the ostracism. This new collection, very different, has the same steely provocativeness. Co-written with Jack Antonoff (Taylor Swift, Lorde etc), ‘Gaslighter’ steers a confident course between country and pop. A marital theme, following Natalie Maines’s divorce from actor Adrian Pasdar, pervades the songs and is at the heart of the title track ‘Gaslighter’, about a serial liar. ‘Tights On My Boat’ is about a philandering husband smuggling his mistress on board only for her to leave tell-tale lingerie on the deck and ‘Sleep At Night’, which has the acerbic line- “My husband’s girlfriend’s husband just called me up” is in similar vein. ‘Julianna Calm Down’ looks at the role of mothers in toxic relationships and the benign influences they can have on their daughters. ‘Young Man’ addresses Maines’s teenage sons, witnesses to a destructive masculinity, encouraging them to create their own identity and not take on the same behaviour: “Leave the bad news behind you…/And my blues aren’t your blues/You walk in your own shoes/It’s up to you.” These deeply personal songs are complemented by the slow-burning ‘For Her’ with its R&B feel, a feminist, selfhood-reclaiming anthem about the advice an older woman would give her younger self. ‘Texas Man’ takes The Chicks back to their roots, combining Maines’s powerful vocals with Strayer and Maguire’s fiddle, guitar and harmony singing, set to a fun country vibe. The personal becomes the political in the single and video ‘March March’, where the Chicks turn their attention to fighting injustice, whether gun control, LGBTQ+ equality, reproductive rights, climate change or supporting Black Lives Matter, in a modern day protest song, set to an insistent drum beat and defiant fiddle and banjo accompaniment. The album closes with the minimalist ballad ‘Set Me Free’, about the need for freedom, Maines’ heartfelt lyrics set to a soft guitar and muted banjo. Understated, but surefooted in its approach, and through the pain of abuse and betrayal ultimately optimistic, ‘Gaslighter’ is a welcome comeback for this free-spirited and resilient band.

Track Listing:-
1 Gaslighter
2 Sleep at Night
3 Texas Man
4 Everybody Loves You
5 For Her
6 March March
7 My Best Friend's Weddings
8 My Best Friend's Weddings
9 Julianna Calm Down
10 Young Man
11 Hope It's Something Good
12 Set Me Free

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