Strange times in Nashville: when the Gaslighter album was originally planned to be released, the three legendary country music ladies combo was still called Dixie Chicks. After the anti-racism debates in the United States, they now release their new album on 17th July 2020 after their renaming, as The Chicks. Here is my view on their latest music.
The Chicks – About The Artists
The Chicks have been founded as The Dixie Chicks in 1989 in Dallas, Texas. The original combo contained four memors, Laura Lynch (bass), Robin Lynn Macy (guitar) as well as the Erwin sisters, Martie and Emily, who are play various instruments. These are still in the band nowadays – only their surnames have changed due to marriage (Emily Strayer / Martie Maguire). They key genre was bluegrass. Even though the success of their first three albums, which have been released between 1990 and 1993, have been rather limited, they gained quite some reputation already and for example supported Garth Brooks or Reba McEntire. Lynn Macy left the band and singer Laura Lynch was replaced by Natalie Maines around 1993.
Since then, the band played in the same lineup until now. Few years later, The Chicks started to have commercial success, when their single I Can Love You Better went up seventh spot in the US Country Charts and third in Canada. The January 1998 album Wide Open Spaces also hit the top of the album charts in both countries. The following albums were very successful worldwide, the last one, Taking The Long Way (2006), even topped the charts in Sweden and went Top 10 in countries like Norway, Finland or Switzerland. Now, after 14 years, Gaslighter is the eighth studio album by the band.
The Chicks – Gaslighter – Track by Track
The twelve song album lasts 47 minutes:
Doing anything to get your ass farther
Repeating all of the mistakes of your father
Here they are, the first album lyrics of this ladies (how often will I be tempted to write Dixie Chicks still…?). I have to say that I am not too much of a fan of the album’s title track – but at least I can say it is a straight production
2. Sleep at Night
While I said I am not too much a fan of the title track, Sleep at Night with its power and intensity definitely hits me stronger. Very present ear-catcher.
3. Texas Man
While the key message I Could use a Texas man is in the verses of this track, the chorus is
Everybody wants top market
But I’m a little bit unraveled
Everybody wants the new model
But I’m a little bit more traveled
If you got the strength I do
Then sign me up
If I’m not too much for you
Then sign me up
Sign me up
I’m a little bit unraveled
But I’m ready
Uh-huh, huh, uh-huh, huh
And I’m ready
Uh-huh, uh-huh, huh
The track is very accentuated, rhythmic, experimental. Very unique sound, definitely. For my matter of taste, it is a bit too much, too hard.
4. Everybody Loves You
Everybody Loves You is a true blast to me again. A very deep, direct, intense ballad. Very straight song, which is so amazingly focused on the catching voice of Natalie Maines. You just cannot refrain from listening to this one.
5. For Her
For Her is again very vocal-centered. The song starts with Maines’ vocals and piano background solely for over a minute, before there is a wider sound. The song takes quite a central role in this album, definitely – even though I have mixed feelings about it.
6. March March
When March March has been released, it has been praised by many reviewers. I feel that the video about social protests, from current BLM to suffragettes, is definitely impressive and leaves a clear statement, the underlying song, though, is strong in sound and atmosphere, but not that strong in lyrics and songwriting to me.
7. My Best Friend’s Weddings
Just from songwriting, this might be one of the most “country-alike” tracks of the album so far, which is in fact a definite pop album. I like how the track is playing with elements, how it is telling its story.
8. Tights on My Boat
I hope you die peacefully in your sleep
Just kidding, I hope it hurts like you hurt me
I hope that when you think of me you can’t breathe
I hope you never find a sock to match the other one
Hey, will your dad pay your taxes now that I am done
I can promise you’re not fooling anyone
Tights on My Boat is my favorite of the album so far. An angry break-up track, including the chorus statement And you can tell the girl who left her tights on my boat // that she can have you now. The way The Chicks present the story just makes me smile.
9. Julianna Calm Down
Julianna, calm down
You know he’s about to leave but don’t panic
Don’t give him the satisfaction that you can’t handle it
It’ll be okay
The album has been influenced by a dirty divorce by one of the band members – and songs like this one illustrate how much material songwriters can create out of it. Still a track which is cheering up, a song with a positive message. The song even gets a positive mood sound the longer it takes.
10. Young Man
Very classic Dixie Chicks times instrumentation, very intense vocal sound. One thing which is very characteristic for the whole album, but especially in this song is the clear way of singing in it – which just makes the song more catchy.
11. Hope It’s Something Good
While I was already tempted to remove the Country Music tag from this posting, songs like Hope It’s Something Good just lets me keep it for this album. The song even has some strings and is very atmospheric. One of my favorites.
12. Set Me Free
The album closes in the very characteristic Gaslighter way: Deep, a touch of melancholic in sound, but with positive messages in lyrics. Impressive.
The Chicks – Gaslighter – Spotify
Here is the Spotify widget to Gaslighter:
The Chicks – Gaslighter – My View
Albums like Gaslighter always give me a hard time in the review. On the one hand, I do understand why the critics celebrate it. It is good songwriting, it works well with different kinds of atmosphere. Finally, the lead vocals by Natalie Maines are impressive. On the other hand, I just would not hear this album frequently, so I cannot recommend it to you. There are just rare moments in my life where I fully addict myself to an album.
If you listen to Gaslighter you should not do something else, you simply would do wrong, it would be some sort of fraud. Thus, it is a bit too much to me. Of course, I respect the high musical quality behind it, but it misses some notches for me personally to raise it to the very top ranks – which also includes that I personally feel the sound to be a bit repetitive.
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